Nothing But ‘Net – Week #17 – 02/18/2019 – Bad News, Good News

The (#6) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they lost one and won the other. On Tuesday (02/12/2019), they lost at Penn State 75-69, then on Saturday (02/16/2019), they beat (#24) Maryland 65-52 in Crisler. The loss and the win leave Michigan with a record of 23-3 (12-3 in the Big Ten). Michigan is tied for 1st place in the Big Ten with Michigan State. Purdue also has 3 losses, but they haven’t played as many games as Michigan and Michigan State.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Bad news, good news?

A: It’s not just that Michigan lost a game (bad news) and won a game (good news), it’s who they lost to (cellar-dwelling Penn State) and beat (ranked Maryland). The loss to PSU is one of the more shocking and demoralizing losses in the last 20 years, but Michigan bounced back nicely with a solid win against a good Maryland team. The win vs. Maryland makes it 14 times in a row that Michigan has won the next game after a loss. That’s impressive, especially compared to some other nearby Big Ten school that lost three games in a row just a couple weeks ago.

Q: So, what happened?

A: The PSU game started out OK, but went bad quickly. The score was tied 7-7 with 16:29 left in the half when PSU went on a 10-2 run, and never trailed again. Michigan got as close as two points (20-18 with 10:38 left in the 1st half), but let the game get away. PSU led by 13 at halftime (40-27), and 16 before the 2nd half started, due to 3 free throws on two technical fouls on Coach Beilein at the end of the 1st half. Michigan did manage to get the lead back down to four points (55-51 with 8:21 left), but PSU pushed it back up to double digits, and held off UM down the stretch. Michigan was cold and flat, and PSU was hot and fired-up. PSU had their traditional meager crowd, generously listed at 9120, so Michigan can’t blame their performance on a rowdy, sold-out arena. They just had a terrible night.

The Maryland game went much better. Michigan opened up a quick 10-point lead (12-2) by the 15:10 mark, and never trailed. They kept the lead in the 9-11 point range for the entire 1st half, and led by 9 (27-18) at halftime. Maryland played better in the 2nd half, and kept within 6-8 points most of the time, getting as close as 3 points (42-29) with 10:21 left in the game. Michigan pushed the lead back up to the 9-11 point range, and kept it there for a convincing win.

Q: Any problems with the officiating?

A: No comment.

Well, I guess I do have a few comments, but most of them are unprintable. Let’s just say that the officiating in the PSU game was bad, even by Big Ten standards. How bad? Coach Beilein has only been ejected from two games in his career, and this was one of them. The other time was in 1981. He has to be pretty upset to get ejected.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but looking at the officiating crews for Michigan’s three losses, a couple names pop out:

At Wisconsin (01/19) – Lewis Garrison, DJ Carstensen, Donnie Eppley

At Iowa (02/01) – Lewis Garrison, DJ Carstensen, Terry Wymer

At PSU (02/12) – Lewis Garrison, Paul Szelc, Rob Riley

I’m sure Lewis Garrison is a fine official, and it’s just a coincidence. Same with DJ Carstensen.

Q: How were the game stats?

A: Confusing. The stats for the loss (PSU) are much better than the stats for the win (Maryland).

In the PSU game, Michigan shot well overall (25-for-49 = 51.0%), they shot 3-pointers decently (7-for-20 = 35.0%), and they shot free throws pretty well (12-for-16 = 75.0%). They lost the rebounding battle badly (35-25), and they tied in the turnover battle (12-12). The rebounding edge was the difference.

In the Maryland game, Michigan shot decently overall (25-for-59 = 42.4%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (7-for-26 = 26.9%), and they shot free throws very well (8-for-10 = 80.0%). Once again, they got hammered on the boards (39-30), but they won the turnover battle handily (6-16). Those extra 10 possessions were the difference in the game.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good week:

  • Charles Matthews was the high scorer for Michigan in both games, with 24 points vs. PSU and 14 points vs. Maryland. He also had 6 rebounds in each game.
  • Jordan Poole only hit double figures in one game (17 and 8 points). He had an awful week shooting 3-pointers: 1-for-8 vs. PSU, and 0-for-3 vs. Maryland.
  • Ignas Brazdeikis also only hit double figures in one game (6 and 13 points). He was limited to 17 minutes in the PSU game by foul trouble.
  • Jon Teske didn’t hit double figures in either game (5 and 9 points), but he played a key role defensively in the Maryland game, holding Maryland’s big gun (Bruno Fernando) scoreless in the 1st half, and limiting him to 12 points total. On the downside, he shot terribly in the Maryland game: 4-for-13 (1-for-7 from deep).
  • Isaiah Livers also didn’t hit double figures in either game (7 and 7 points), but he was a key contributor on both ends of the court. He helped out a lot on Fernando in the Maryland game.

Q: Who looked not-so-good for Michigan?

A: A few players had an “off” week:

  • Zavier Simpson had a terrible game vs. PSU, but a good game vs. Maryland. However, his performance vs. PSU probably cost Michigan the game. He did score 8 points in the PSU game, but he shot terribly: 2-for-9 (2-for-6 from deep). He also had more turnovers (6) than assists (4). He had 12 points in the Maryland game.
  • Eli Brooks played in both games, and finally scored some points: 2 points vs. PSU, 0 points vs. Maryland.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. played in both games, but didn’t score in either game.

Q: Who else played this week?

A: David DeJulius played 6 minutes in the Maryland game, when Simpson picked up his 2nd foul in the 1st half. He did OK, with 2 points, and no assists or turnovers.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan can lose to anybody on the road. Michigan is much better than PSU, but with the wrong combination of cold shooting, a hot opponent, and terrible officiating, the big upset is always possible. We also learned that Michigan is very good at ending their losing streaks at one game.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan plays two games again this week, one away and one at home. On Thursday (02/21/2019, 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN), they play at Minnesota, then on Sunday (02/24/2019, 3:45 p.m., CBS), they play (#11) Michigan State in Crisler.

Minnesota is currently 17-9 (7-8 in Big Ten), with Big Ten wins over Wisconsin and Iowa, and Big Ten losses to Ohio State, Illinois, and Nebraska. Michigan has already played and beaten them (59-57) back on 01/22/2019 (the Charles Matthews buzzer-beater). They were tough in that game in Ann Arbor, and they’re likely to be much tougher in “The Barn”. Michigan has not played very well on the road in the Big Ten this season (4-3), so this game is very much in doubt.

Ah, my own personal nemesis, Michigan State. I hate Michigan State more than all the other schools Michigan competes against put together. The home basketball game vs. MSU is THE game I want Michigan to win the most of any contest in any sport the whole year, every year.

Michigan State is currently 21-5 (12-3 in Big Ten), with Big Ten wins over Iowa (twice), Purdue, Maryland, and Wisconsin, and three consecutive losses to Purdue, Indiana (at home), and Illinois. Their losses correspond roughly to Michigan’s three losses: Purdue == Wisconsin, Indiana == Iowa, Illinois == Penn State. They have some height (a couple 6’11” guys), and two “marquee” players: Nick Ward and Cassius Winston. Ward is another bruiser underneath, so Teske is in for a battle. Moe Wagner routinely embarrassed Ward, but he’s in the NBA now, so it’s Teske’s job to control him. Winston is a lock for 1st team All Big Ten. He’s a great player, but he hasn’t played against a player like Zavier Simpson this season. It should be quite a matchup. Michigan should win this game, but they’ll have to play as well as they have all season to do it.

That’s it for this week. Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #16 – 02/11/2019 – A Road Win, And Revenge

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won them both. On Tuesday (02/05/2019), they won at Rutgers 77-65, then on Saturday (02/09/2019), they beat (#19) Wisconsin 61-52 in Crisler. The wins raise Michigan’s record to 22-2 (11-2 in the Big Ten). Michigan is now all alone in 1st place, although Purdue also has just 2 losses in Big Ten play, they just haven’t played as many games as Michigan.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Revenge?

A: It was sweet revenge, after Wisconsin beat Michigan in Madison back on 01/19/2019, handing Michigan their first loss after a 17-game winning streak to start the season. Michigan played pretty poorly in that game, and they wanted a chance to show Wisconsin how the game could have gone if they had played closer to their potential. Michigan played much better against UW the second time around, especially down the stretch.

Q: So, what happened?

A: Rutgers is much better this season than they’ve been since they joined the Big Ten. In years past, a road trip to Piscataway wouldn’t be very scary; you just play a decent game, and Rutgers will obligingly fold up and hand you the game. Not this season: Michigan had to play a good, solid game to beat Rutgers, and they earned the win. Michigan pulled out to a nice 12 point lead (18-6) with 14:18 to go in the 1st half, then stretched it to 17 points (27-10) with 10:56 to go. UM kept the lead in the 15-17 point range for the next few minutes, until Rutgers went on a quick 8-0 run to cut the lead down to 9 points (38-29) with 3:06 left in the half. Michigan got the lead back up to 12 points (43-31) at halftime. Rutgers opened the 2nd half with another run, and cut the lead down to 7 points (48-41) with 15:01 left in the game. That was as close as they got. Michigan pushed the lead up into the 12-14 point range and kept it there for most of the rest of the game. Rutgers got within 8-9 points a couple times, but Michigan always had an answer, winning by 12 points.

The Wisconsin game was tight, close, and low scoring. Wisconsin started strong, and led by 8 points (13-5) with 14:36 to go in the 1st half. Michigan finally got going, and took the lead (18-17) with 9:06 left in the half. The lead went back and forth, but never more than 2-3 points, and the game was tied (27-27) at halftime. Michigan took the lead for good at the 17:33 mark, but never got more than 3-5 points ahead until the last 4:16. UM outscored Wisconsin 10-2 down the stretch, to win by 9. It was a great finish.

Q: How were the game stats?

A: Not bad. Michigan played pretty well in both games, and the stats show it.

In the Rutgers game, Michigan shot well overall (26-for-58 = 44.8%), they shot 3-pointers very well (11-for-23 = 47.8%), and they shot free throws very well (14-for-17 = 82.4%). They lost the rebounding battle (36-34), but they won the turnover battle (7-9). When Michigan shoots their 3-pointers well, they usually win.

In the Wisconsin game, Michigan shot well overall (25-for-56 = 44.6%), they shot 3-pointers pretty poorly (4-for-17 = 23.5%), and they shot free throws very well (7-for-9 = 77.8%). Miraculously, they won the rebounding battle (36-33), and they won the turnover battle (5-7). Michigan won this game with overall shooting and defense. They also outscored Wisconsin 7-0 on the free-throw line. That’s right: Wisconsin made zero (0) free throws, on only 2 attempts. One other interesting stat: Michigan shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range in the 1st half, then went 0-for-10 in the 2nd half. If any one of those 10 attempts had gone in, the end of the game would have been a lot less tense.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good week:

  • Jordan Poole hit double figures in both games, with 15 vs. Rutgers and 10 vs. Wisconsin. Once again, he wasn’t very efficient (5-for-13 overall, 3-for-6 from deep, vs. Rutgers, and 4-for-11 overall, 2-for-6 from deep, vs. Wisconsin). He almost had a double-double vs. Wisconsin with a career-high 9 rebounds.
  • Charles Matthews also hit double figures in both games, with 11 vs. Rutgers and 18 vs. Wisconsin. He was the hero of the Wisconsin game, with 16 of his 18 points in the 2nd half, including several clutch shots in the last few minutes.
  • Zavier Simpson hit double figures in one game this week (14 and 5 points), and he flirted with another triple-double in the Rutgers game, with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. As usual, he ran the offense very well, and played great defense.
  • Ignas Brazdeikis also only hit double figures in one game this week, but he did it in extreme fashion: he was the high scorer and hero of the Rutgers game, with 23 points, but he had a terrible game vs. Wisconsin, with 2 points on 1-for-9 (0-for-4 from deep) shooting. Combined with his 0 points in the first Wisconsin game, he has 2 points for 80 minutes of game action. Ugh. I don’t know what it is about Wisconsin, since he’s hit double figures in all but 2 of his other games this season.
  • Jon Teske only hit double figures in one game this week (7 and 17 points), but he was a big factor in the win over Wisconsin. Besides his 17 points, he also had 12 rebounds, for a nice double-double, but he also played very hard on defense, trying to contain Ethan Happ. No one can stop Happ, you can only hope to slow him down. He started the Michigan game with 8 of Wisconsin’s first 10 points, and he had 14 points with 2:46 left in the half. Teske finally figured out how to neutralize him, and held him to only 4 points for the rest of the game.
  • Isaiah Livers didn’t score a lot this week (5 and 9 points), but he played some crucial defense on Ethan Happ, when Jon Teske was on the bench.

Q: Who looked not-so-good for Michigan?

A: A few players had an “off” week:

  • Eli Brooks played in both games, but didn’t score a point in either. He was 0-for-2 vs. Rutgers, and didn’t attempt a shot vs. Wisconsin. Michigan needs some bench points from him.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. played in both games, and scored 2 points vs. Rutgers, but didn’t attempt a shot vs. Wisconsin.

Q: Who else played this week?

A: Both games were tight, so Coach Beilein didn’t play anyone else.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan still has a little swagger left. They played well on the road vs. Rutgers, and they played tough down the stretch against a good (ranked) opponent, Wisconsin. Now, they need to show that they can beat a good opponent on the road.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan plays two games again this week, one away and one at home. On Tuesday (02/12/2019, 8:30 p.m., BTN), they play at Penn State, then on Saturday (02/16/2019, 12:00 p.m., FOX), they play (#24) Maryland in Crisler.

Penn State is currently 8-15 (1-11 in Big Ten), with wins over Virginia Tech and Northwestern, and lots of losses. Michigan already played and beaten them (68-55) back on 01/03/2019. That started a 10-game losing streak for PSU, all in the Big Ten. They finally beat Northwestern, then lost to Ohio State. They are in last place in the Big Ten. Michigan can beat them again, even on the road, but they need to play well, and not let the (meager) Penn State crowd get into the game.

Maryland is currently 18-6 (9-4 in Big Ten), with wins over Loyola (Chicago), Indiana, and Wisconsin, and losses to Seton Hall, Illinois, and Wisconsin. They have some height (two 6’10” guys and two 6’9″ guys), including another beast in the middle, Bruno Fernando. This will be a tough game, but Michigan can beat them with the kind of effort and focus they showed in the Purdue, Ohio State, and Wisconsin games in Crisler.

That’s it for this week. Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #15 – 02/04/2019 – Roadkill

The (#5) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won one and lost the other. On Tuesday (01/29/2019), they beat Ohio State 65-49 in Crisler, then on Friday (02/01/2019), they lost at Iowa 74-59. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a record of 20-2 (9-2 in the Big Ten), tied for 1st place with Michigan State and Purdue.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Roadkill?

A: Yeah, the home team won both games this week. Unfortunately, Michigan was the visiting team at Iowa. The opposite of “road warriors” is “roadkill”. Michigan is now 3-2 in Big Ten road games, with wins at Northwestern, Illinois, and Indiana, and losses at Wisconsin and Iowa.

Q: So, what happened?

A: As good as Michigan looked against OSU, that’s how bad they looked vs. Iowa. The OSU game didn’t start out very well, with OSU leading for the first 12 minutes, before UM tied it (19-19) with 8:10 to go in the 1st half. The teams traded the lead until the 2:10 mark, when Michigan went ahead for good, 27-26. They led by 6 points (32-26) at halftime, and 11 points (44-33) with 12:35 to go. OSU got as close as 8 points (44-36), before UM pushed the lead up to the 14-16 point range and kept it there.

The Iowa game started out close, with several ties and lead changes in the first 9 minutes. It was tied up 12-12 with 11:21 to go in the 1st half, when Michigan went on a quick 5-0 run to take their only significant lead (17-12), with 10:48 left. That’s when the roof fell in. Iowa went on a long, painful 21-2 run over the next 5 minutes that crushed the life out of Michigan. That made it 33-19, and that was the game. Michigan made a few feeble attempts at a comeback, and got within 9 points (50-41) with 12:28 left in the game, but Iowa was hot, and Michigan was not. It was a very discouraging performance.

Q: Any problems with the officiating?

A: Well…

Let’s just say that they called the Iowa game a little more closely than any game I’ve seen in the last 10 years. Maybe they called it evenly for both teams, but they certainly were REALLY picky about what they called a foul. It made the game unwatchable.

Q: How were the game stats?

A: About what you would expect: good for the win, and lousy for the loss:

In the OSU game, Michigan shot pretty well overall (22-for-54 = 40.7%), they shot 3-pointers well (10-for-27 = 37.0%), and they shot free throws very well (11-for-12 = 91.7%). They lost the rebounding battle (35-29), but they dominated in the turnover battle (9-19). Those 10 extra possessions really helped.

In the Iowa game, Michigan shot poorly overall (21-for-65 = 32.3%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (8-for-33 = 24.2%), but they did shoot free throws well (9-for-12 = 75.0%). They got clobbered on the boards (48-36), but they did win the turnover battle (8-10). The combination of poor shooting and terrible rebounding cost Michigan this game.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good week:

  • Jordan Poole bounced back from a quiet week last week with a solid week this week. He was the high scorer for Michigan in both games, with 15 points vs. OSU and 16 points vs. Iowa. Unfortunately, he was inefficient in both games: 5-for-14 overall (3-for-10 from deep) vs. OSU, and 5-for-12 overall (3-for-9 from deep) vs. Iowa.
  • Ignas Brazdeikis also had a solid week. He was the co-high scorer in the Iowa game (16 points), and just one point behind Poole in the OSU game (14 points). He was much more efficient than Poole: 4-for-7 (2-for-3 from deep) vs. OSU, and 6-for-15 (2-for-4 from deep) vs. Iowa.
  • Zavier Simpson was the real star of the OSU game, even though he wasn’t the high scorer. He scored 11 points, which is fine, but he also had 10 rebounds and 12 assists (a new career high), for a rare “triple-double”. It was only the 6th triple-double in UM history. He flirted with a second straight triple-double in the Iowa game, with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.
  • Isaiah Livers hit double figures in one game (12 points vs. OSU), but only 3 points vs. Iowa. He was limited by foul trouble for most of the Iowa game (see above about officiating), picking up 4 fouls in 14 minutes.

Q: Who looked not-so-good for Michigan?

A: A few players had an “off” week:

  • Jon Teske didn’t hit double figures in either game (4 and 8 points). He was severely limited by foul trouble in the Iowa game (see above about officiating), and fouled out in only 13 minutes.
  • Charles Matthews had a really inefficient week. He had 9 and 6 points, but he shot terribly, especially in the Iowa game: 3-for-8 overall (1-for-3 from deep) vs. OSU, and 2-for-12 overall (2-for-7 from deep) vs. Iowa.
  • Eli Brooks played in both games, but didn’t score a point in either. He didn’t attempt a shot vs. OSU, and was 0-for-3 vs. Iowa. Michigan needs some bench points from him.

Q: Who else played this week?

A: Coach Beilein played the subs and scrubs in the last minute of the OSU blow-out, and he was forced to play several not-ready-for-primetime players in the Iowa game, due to foul trouble. Colin Castleton, Austin Davis, David DeJulius, Brandon Johns, Jr., and Adrien Nuñez all played in both games, but didn’t score. The “big men” (Castleton, Davis, and Johns) played more minutes than usual when both Teske and Livers got in foul trouble in the Iowa game. They were not effective.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan has a tough time playing against a good Big Ten team on the road in a loud and hostile environment. We could explain away the loss at Wisconsin a couple weeks ago as a result of the stress of the long winning streak to start the season, but the debacle in Iowa was purely a matter of crumbling under adversity. When Iowa started their run, and the crowd got going, you could see the fear and uncertainty on the faces of the Michigan players. Now, all the remaining Big Ten games on the road are in question.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan plays two games again this week, one away and one at home. On Tuesday (02/05/2019, 8:00 p.m., BTN), they play at Rutgers, then on Saturday (02/09/2019, 12:00 p.m., FOX), they play (#24) Wisconsin in Crisler.

Rutgers is currently 11-10 (4-7 in Big Ten), with wins over Miami (FL), Ohio State, Nebraska, and Indiana, and losses to Fordham, Seton Hall, Northwestern, and Ohio State. They have some height (a 7’0″ guy and three 6’10” guys), but no real superstars. They are currently tied for 9th place in the Big Ten (with Indiana), which is a big improvement on 13th or 14th place, where they usually finish. Michigan is certainly better than Rutgers, but they will need to play well to beat them, especially on the road. There are no easy wins on the road in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin is currently 16-6 (8-3 in Big Ten), just one game behind the three teams tied for 1st place (Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue). They beat Michigan handily in Madison 2 weeks ago (01/19/2019), and that was the start of a 5-game winning streak for them, beating Illinois (away), Northwestern, Nebraska (away), and (#21) Maryland since then. This is a crucial game for Michigan. They can beat Wisconsin, but they need to get their swagger back to do it.

That’s it for this week. Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!