The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won one and lost one. On Tuesday (01/12/2016), they beat (#3) Maryland 70-67 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/17/2016), they lost at (#16) Iowa 82-71. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a record of 13-5 (3-2 in the Big Ten).
Including the game at (#20) Purdue last week, which they lost 87-70, Michigan played three games in a row against Top-25 teams, two of them on the road. They won the home game, and lost both road games. That’s enough Top-25 opponents for a while.
The Maryland game was very exciting, and was a huge victory. The score was close for most of the 1st half, with Michigan leading by 4-6 points. Maryland got the lead back (25-24) with 4:50 to go in the half, when Michigan went on a 13-4 run to lead by 8 (37-29) at halftime. Michigan opened the 2nd half strong, and pushed the lead up to 13 points (48-35) with 16:38 to go. Maryland kept chipping away at the lead, and went ahead by 1 (57-56) with 6:48 left in the game. Michigan didn’t get flustered, and took the lead back right away, and never trailed again. They led by as many as 8 points (67-59 with 2:58 left), and withstood a Maryland charge in the last minute to win it. It was very impressive. And, Michigan did it without their best player, Caris LeVert, who missed both games this week with a left ankle injury. He has now missed 3 games, all against ranked opponents. He is listed as “day to day”.
The Iowa game, on the other hand, was not as impressive. Michigan had a horrible start, and trailed 11-0 with 17:46 to go in the half. Michigan missed their first 6 shots, along with a turnover. Since they lost by 11, that was the game right there. They did manage to fight their way back a couple of times, and actually led a few times (21-20, 48-47, 49-47, and 52-51). That last lead (52-51) came with 12:23 left in the game. Iowa went on a 13-0 run over the next 2:28, and that was the game, again. An 11-0 run to start the game, and a 13-0 run to put it away. UM did get back within 5 points (73-68) with 2:56 left, put that didn’t last long. Iowa was hot from outside, and UM couldn’t keep up. They really missed LeVert.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? We learned that Michigan doesn’t have the horsepower to play a steady diet of Top-25 teams. Maybe once LeVert returns…
The stats for the Maryland game are not as impressive as you’d expect for a win over at Top-5 opponent. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (25-for-53 = 47.2%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (12-for-29 = 41.4%), and they didn’t shoot free throws very well (8-for-13 = 61.5%). They lost the rebounding battle decisively (36-27), but they did win the turnover battle (8-12). They won the game because Maryland was pathetic shooting 3-pointers (6-for-24 = 25.0%).
The stats for the Iowa game aren’t as bad as you’d expect for a double-digit loss. Once again, Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (25-for-54 = 46.3%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (10-for-28 = 35.75), but they did shoot free throws pretty well (11-for-14 = 78.6%). Surprisingly, they won the rebounding battle (33-27), but they really lost the turnover battle (13-4). It was the turnovers, along with mediocre shooting, that did them in.
With LeVert still unavailable, Coach Beilein went with his new regular starting lineup: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (MAAR), Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson, and Derrick Walton Jr. Three of the starters hit double figures in both games: Irvin had 22 vs. Maryland and 11 vs. Iowa, Robinson had 17 and 11, and Walton had 12 and 16. After shooting around 60% from 3-point range for the first 14 games of the season, Robinson has really cooled off. He was 5-for-9 vs. Maryland, which isn’t too bad, but he was 2-for-8 vs. Iowa, which really hurt. Also, Walton had 10 rebounds vs. Maryland, for a double-double.
The other two starters did OK this week: MAAR had 5 and 7 points, and Donnal had 8 and 8.
The bench contributed a few points this week, mostly in the Iowa game. Aubrey Dawkins had 4 and 12 points, Moritz Wagner didn’t play in the Maryland game and had 4 points vs. Iowa, and DJ Wilson had 2 points in each game. Andrew Dakich and Ricky Doyle played in both games, but failed to score. Kameron Chatman played in the Iowa game, but failed to score. Michigan could really use more bench scoring.
This week, Michigan plays two more Big Ten games. On Wednesday (01/20/2016, 8:30 p.m., BTN), they play Minnesota in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (01/23/2016, 2:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2), they play at Nebraska. Finally, some games against non-ranked opponents.
Minnesota is 6-12 (0-6 in the Big Ten), and they have only one quality win (Clemson) to go with several embarrassing losses (South Dakota, South Dakota State, Milwaukee, and Penn State). Michigan should beat them easily.
Nebraska is a little better. They’re 11-8 (3-3 in the Big Ten). Their only quality win is over Tennessee, while they have lost to Creighton, Samford, and Northwestern. They play tough at home, but they are beatable. Call this one a “toss up” game.
Come on down to Crisler on Wednesday, tune by on Saturday, and check back next week to see what happened, and why.