The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week in the Big Ten Tournament, and they won one and lost the other. They were the #9 seed. On Thursday (03/12/2015), they beat (#8 seed) Illinois 73-55, then on Friday (03/13/2015), they lost to (#1 seed) Wisconsin 71-60. Both games were played in Chicago. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a final record of 16-16 (8-10 in the Big Ten). Michigan was not invited to the NIT, so their disappointing season is over.
The Illinois game was very impressive. UM played very well, and beat Illinois convincingly. The game started with a few runs by each team, with Illinois leading 19-17 with 8:12 to go in the 1st half, when Michigan went on a 23-4 run to end the half. That made the score 40-23, and UM never looked back. They started the 2nd half with an 8-2 run, and that put the game out of reach. Michigan kept the lead up over 20 points for most of the rest of the game, and were never challenged.
Playing the #5 team in the nation on one day’s rest is a tall order, but UM gave Wisconsin all they could handle for most of the game, before running out of gas down the stretch. UM actually led 44-41 with 12:28 left in the game, and had the score tied up (54-54) with 6:09 left. Wisconsin was just too big, too well-rested, and too talented. It was a noble effort, but UM couldn’t come up with the stops on defense in the last 6 minutes.
Time to look at the game stats. First, the Illinois game: UM shot pretty well overall (29-for-59 = 49.2%), then shot 3-pointers very well (7-for-15 = 46.7%), and they were perfect from the free-throw line (8-for-8 = 100.0%). They lost the rebounding battle (32-36), but they won the turnover battle, barely (9-10). The 3-point shooting won the game.
On to the Wisconsin game: UM shot very well overall (27-for-52 = 51.9%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (6-for-15 = 40.0%), but they didn’t make a single free throw (0-for-2 = 0.0%). They got crushed on the boards (19-34), but they did win the turnover battle (5-7). They lost the game at the free-throw line, since Wisconsin went 14-for-16 (87.5%).
Individually, only one player hit double figures in both games: Zak Irvin, with 14 vs. Illinois, and 21 vs. Wisconsin. He also pulled down 11 rebounds vs. Wisconsin, for a double-double.
Only one bench player hit double figures in one of the games: Ricky Doyle had 12 points (on 6-for-6 shooting) vs. Wisconsin. He scored most of them with Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky all over him. He only played 5 minutes vs. Illinois, scoring 2 points (on 1-for-1 shooting; he was 7-for-7 in the tournament).
The rest of the bench didn’t contribute much. Andrew Dakich had 2 points vs. Illinois, but didn’t play in the Wisconsin game. Mark Donnal had 4 and 0 points. Kameron Chatman played in both games, but failed to score. Sean Lonergan played in the Illinois game, but failed to score.
There is no “this week”. The season is over for Michigan.
Check back here next week for the season wrap-up, final grades, and a look ahead to next season.