The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they lost it. On Saturday (03/05/2016), they lost to (#16) Iowa 71-61 in Crisler Arena. The loss drops Michigan’s record to 20-11 (10-8 in the Big Ten).
It’s always sad to lose on Senior Night, and it’s even sadder when all your seniors are in street clothes due to injuries. It was a terrible way for Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert to end their Michigan careers.
The game itself was actually pretty entertaining, as long as you weren’t rooting for Michigan to win. It was fast-paced and sloppy, with lots of acrobatic moves and wild loose balls. Other than a brief 3-0 and 3-2 lead for Michigan, Iowa led the whole way. They kept the lead around 10 points for most of the game, occasionally pushing it as high as 15, with Michigan getting as close as 1 point (once) and 2 points (a few times) in the first half. The key moment in the game came with 6:13 left in the 2nd half, when UM cut a 15-point deficit (59-44) down to 5 points (59-54) in 4 minutes. UM was playing hard and smart, Iowa was starting to look rattled, and the sell-out crowd was getting into it. Just when it looked like Michigan might claw its way back into the game, Michigan went cold again, and Iowa pushed the lead back up to 11 points (69-58). That was the game.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? Nothing new. This is not an NCAA Tournament team. Maybe next year.
The stats for the game are pretty dismal. UM didn’t shoot well overall (23-for-64 = 35.9%), they didn’t shoot well from 3-point range (8-for-34 = 23.5%), and they didn’t shoot free throws well (7-for-12 = 58.3%). They did a great job rebounding (43-35), including 12 offensive rebounds, but they lost the turnover battle (11-8).
Coach Beilein went with his 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: MAAR with 10 points, Irvin with 11 (and 8 rebounds), and Walton, with 14. The other two starters did OK: Donnal had 9 points (and a career-high 10 rebounds), and Robinson had 8 points (and 8 rebounds). Robinson played his best all-around game of the season, but is still deep in his 3-point shooting slump (1-for-6 this game).
The bench didn’t contribute many points in this game:
- Kameron Chatman had 5 points.
- Andrew Dakich had 0 points.
- Aubrey Dawkins had 2 points.
- Ricky Doyle had 2 points.
- Moritz Wagner didn’t play.
- DJ Wilson had 0 points.
The regular season is over; on to the Big Ten Tournament, in Indianapolis. Michigan is the #8 seed, and they get a bye into the 2nd round on Thursday (03/10/2016, 12:00 p.m. EST, BTN) vs. the #9 seed, Northwestern. If they win that one, they get to play the #1 seed (Indiana) on Friday (03/11/2016, 12:00 p.m. EST, ESPN). The complete bracket is here.
Michigan should be able to beat Northwestern, but beating Indiana on a nearly-home-court is going to be a tall order. The big question is: will one more win be enough to get UM into the NCAA Tournament. I’d put the odds at about 30%.
Tune by on Thursday (and hopefully, beyond), then check back next week to see what happened, and why.