The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won one and lost one. On Tuesday (01/13/2015), they lost at Ohio State 71-52, then on Saturday (01/17/2015), they beat Northwestern in Crisler 56-54. The win and the loss leave Michigan with an overall record of 11-7 (4-2 in the Big Ten).
Sounds good; what’s the disaster? With 2 seconds left at the end of the Northwestern game, a Northwestern player drove the lane and put up a shot that would have sent the game into overtime. He missed, and Michigan came up with the loose ball to preserve the win. In the scramble for the loose ball, Michigan’s best player and leading scorer, Caris LeVert, came down wrong on his left foot and injured it severely enough to require surgery. He’s done for the season, and, presumably, his career, since he will probably enter the NBA draft in the spring.
This is a crushing blow to an already shaky team. LeVert was not only the leading scorer on the team, he also led the team in rebounds, assists, steals, and minutes played. With the lingering effects of the toe injury to Derrick Walton Jr., and the recent slump that Zak Irvin has been in, Michigan now has no “go to” player on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost the rest of their games. It’s certainly hard to imagine them beating any of the upper division teams, and they only have 3 games left against lower division teams (at Rutgers, at Northwestern, and home vs. Rutgers). They might be able to win 1 or 2 of those games.
Aside from the LeVert Disaster, this was a very predictable week. It seemed very unlikely that UM would upset OSU in Columbus, and it was a good bet that they’d beat Northwestern in Crisler, and that’s what they did. Of course, they looked terrible in both games, but they got away with it vs. Northwestern.
I have no interest in the stats. If you do, here they are: Ohio State and Northwestern. The only interesting thing about either game was that Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got his first career start in the Northwestern game, since Spike Albrecht was out with an “upper respiratory illness”. MAAR played pretty well, and even hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
This week, Michigan continues Big Ten play with two more games. On Tuesday (01/20/2015, 6:30 p.m., BTN), they play at Rutgers, then on Saturday (01/24/2015, 7:00 p.m., ESPN), they play (#7) Wisconsin in Crisler. The Wisconsin game is going to be covered as Game Day by ESPN.
As I mentioned above, the game at Rutgers is one of only 3 left on Michigan’s schedule that they stand a chance of winning, but it will be tough. Rutgers beat Wisconsin a couple weeks ago, and they’re tough at home. Michigan will still be getting used to playing without Caris LeVert, and a lot of freshmen are going to be playing a lot of minutes. The Wisconsin game is going to be even tougher. Wisconsin has been ranked as high as #2 this season, and they have the probable Big Ten Player of the Year in Frank Kaminsky. He’s a 7-footer, and UM has had a tough time defending big men this season. Don’t be surprised if UM loses both games, and gets blown out by Wisconsin.
Check back here next week to see what happened, and why.