Nothing But ‘Net – Week #20 – 03/09/2020 – The End Of The Regular Season

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The (#25) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won one and lost the other.  On Thursday (03/05/2020), they beat Nebraska 82-58 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (03/08/2020), they lost at (#9) Maryland 83-70.  The win and the loss leave Michigan with a final regular season record of 19-12 (10-10 in the Big Ten).  Michigan finished in 9th place in the Big Ten.

What Happened?

The Nebraska game was Senior Night for Michigan, and the Maryland game was Senior Day for them.  In both cases, the home crowd was happy.  Michigan has two players with senior eligibility (Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske), and they were both honored before the Nebraska game.  They both played well in that game, and were given standing ovations when they came out in the final minutes.

Nebraska isn’t very good, and after an early 2-2 tie, Michigan led for the entire game.  UM let Nebraska hang around for most of the 1st half, leading by only 4 points (32-28) at halftime, but they started the 2nd half strong, opened up a 16-18 point lead, and kept it there the rest of the way.  The only suspense was whether Simpson would get a double-double; he did, with 11 points and 10 assists.

Maryland was playing for a tie for 1st place in the final Big Ten standings, and they outplayed Michigan.  The game was close for the first 5 minutes, and Michigan actually led briefly, but once Maryland got ahead (8-7, with 15:11 to go), they never trailed again.  They pushed the lead up to 10-12 points in the 1st half, and led by 13 (41-28) at halftime.  Michigan cut into the lead in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half, and got within 3 points (56-53) with 10:21 left, but that was as close as they could get.  Maryland eventually pushed the lead back into double digits and kept it there.

Stats  

The stats for the Nebraska game are decent, but nothing special.  Michigan shot fairly well overall (32-for-70 = 45.7%), they shot 3-pointers pretty poorly (8-for-27 = 29.6%), and they shot free throws pretty well (10-for-14 = 71.4%).  They lost the rebounding battle (40-38), but they won the turnover battle handily (11-22).  Those 9 extra possessions helped Michigan win the game.

The stats for the Maryland game are about the same as the Nebraska game.  Michigan shot fairly well overall (24-for-50 = 48.0%), they shot 3-pointers pretty poorly (6-for-20 = 30.0%), and they shot free throws well (16-for-20 = 80.0%).  They lost the rebounding battle (29-22) and the turnover battle (9-8).  Those 8 extra possessions helped Maryland win the game.

Who Started?

The starters for both games were Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner.

Who Looked Good?

Simpson hit double figures in both games (11 and 13 points), and had 10 assists in the Nebraska game, for a double-double.  He also had 5 turnovers in the Nebraska game, most of them when he tried to do too much and got too fancy.  Fortunately, Nebraska isn’t very good, so it didn’t hurt Michigan.

Wagner was the only other Michigan player to hit double figures in both games, with 11 and 15 points.  After a few weeks of decent 3-point shooting, he fell off this week: 0-for-4 vs. Nebraska and 2-for-5 vs. Maryland.

Livers had an uneven week.  He was the leading scorer (18 points) vs. Nebraska, but he had a lousy game vs. Maryland: 6 points on 2-for-8 shooting (0-for-5 from deep).

Teske had a pretty good week, with 12 points on Senior Night vs. Nebraska, and 8 points vs. Maryland.

Brooks had a decent week, with 8 and 6 points, but he just doesn’t look very comfortable out there with the mask on over his broken nose.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had an uneven week, with 10 points in the Nebraska game and 0 points vs. Maryland.

David DeJulius had a VERY uneven week, with 1 point vs. Nebraska and a game-high (and career-high) 20 points vs. Maryland.

Austin Davis was yet another player to have an uneven week, with a strong 7 points vs. Nebraska, and a mediocre 2 points vs. Maryland.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Look at all those “uneven” weeks above: most of the “bad” games were vs. Maryland (except DeJulius).  So, I guess you could list Livers, Johns, and Davis in the “not-so-good” category as well.

Who Else Played?

Cole Bajema, Colin Castleton, Jaron Faulds, Adrien Nuñez, and Luke Wilson all played in the Nebraska game.  Bajema and Nuñez each scored 2 points.

Who Didn’t Play?

C.J. Baird and Rico Ozuna-Harrison didn’t play in either game.

What Does It Mean?

Well, the regular season is over, and it was a mixed bag.  On 11/29/2019, Michigan was 7-0, and about to go from unranked to #4 in the next AP poll.  Since that time, UM has played exactly 0.500 ball: 12-12 (10-10 in the Big Ten).  They probably already have a good enough resume to get into the NCAA Tournament with a medium seed (8 or 9), but they could sure help their case with a couple wins in the Big Ten Tournament.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays in the Big Ten Tournament, in Indianapolis (IN).  Michigan is the #9 seed, and they start play on Thursday (03/12/2020, 12:00 p.m. EDT, BTN) vs. the #8 seed, Rutgers.  If they win that game, they will play again on Friday (03/13/2020, 12:00 p.m. EDT, BTN) vs. the #1 seed, Wisconsin.  If they survive that, the next game would be on Saturday (03/14/2020, 1:00 p.m. EDT, CBS) vs. one of several teams.  The championship game is on Sunday (03/15/2020, 3:30 p.m. EDT, CBS).

Michigan has played, and beaten, Rutgers twice already this season.  They certainly stand a good chance against them in the 3rd meeting.  On the other hand, Wisconsin beat Michigan in Crisler Arena in their only matchup this season.  Michigan can certainly beat them, but they have to play pretty well to do it.  The other top seeds (#2 Michigan State, #3 Maryland, and #4 Illinois) have all beaten Michigan this season, but Michigan did split with MSU.

Michigan doesn’t need to win the Big Ten Tournament championship to get into the Big Dance, but if they can win 2-3 games, it will sure help get them a more favorable seeding in the NCAA Tournament.  I don’t think Michigan has the mental strength to win 4 games in 4 days in Indianapolis, but they might be able to string together a couple wins.  We’ll talk about how well they’ll do in the Big Dance next week.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!