Nothing But ‘Net – Week #18 – 02/27/2023 – A Great Week

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this past week, and they won both of them.  On Thursday (02/23/2023), they beat Rutgers 58-45 in Piscataway (NJ), then on Sunday (02/26/2023), they beat Wisconsin 87-79 in overtime in Crisler Arena.  The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 17-12 (11-7 in Big Ten).

What Happened?

Wow, what a great week!  Two big wins against two solid teams, one of them on the road.  They were both hard-fought, exciting games, but the end of the Wisconsin game was amazing.  Read on for more details.

Oh yeah, the Wisconsin game was Senior Day, but it was a low-key affair.  The only player honored was Joey Baker.

Game Flow

The Rutgers game started terribly, but ended well.  Rutgers jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, but Michigan hit a 3-pointer to make it 4-3.  Rutgers then went on a 9-0 run to lead by 10 (13-3) at the 14:00 mark.  Michigan finally scored again with 11:37 to go in the half to make it 13-5, but during that scoring drought they missed 10 shots in a row, along with two turnovers.  Michigan kept chipping away at the deficit, and got within one point (13-12) at the 9:13 mark.  Rutgers stretched the lead to 7 points (19-12) with 6:18 to go, but Michigan answered.  They finally got the lead, 22-21, with 2:37 left in the half, and led by 3 points (26-23) at halftime.  Rutgers scored the first basket of the 2nd half to pull within one point (26-25), but Michigan started pulling away.  UM led by 8 points (36-28) at the 14:59 mark, and kept the lead in the 4-6 point range until the 6:57 mark, when it was 44-38.  That’s when Michigan pulled away for good, getting the lead as high as 15 points and winning by 13.  It was a very impressive win against a good Rutgers team that hasn’t lost many games at home this season.

The Wisconsin game also started slowly for Michigan, although not as slowly as the Rutgers game.  Wisconsin led by 2-4 points early, with Michigan getting a momentary lead (9-8) at the 16:34 mark.  Wisconsin got the lead back, and started pulling away.  They led 17-9 with 12:24 left in the half, but Michigan came back.  UM got within one point (17-16) with 9:09 to go, tied it up (20-20) at the 6:12 mark, and pulled ahead by 7-9 points for the rest of the half, leading by 8 points (35-27) at halftime.  Michigan kept the lead in the 7-9 point range for the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half, up by 7 points (48-41) at the 12:59 mark.  Wisconsin cut into the lead, and it was only in the 2-4 point range for the next 6 minutes.  The Badgers went back ahead, 53-52, with 7:30 to go, and the lead went back and forth for the rest of the half.  Things looked pretty dismal when Wisconsin went up by 3 points (68-65) with 8.1 seconds left, but Hunter Dickinson hit an amazing desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, 68-68.  The lead went back and forth in the first 2 minutes of overtime, with the score tied 75-75 at the 2:14 mark.  That’s when Michigan went ahead for good, pushing the lead up into the 6-8 point range, and winning by 8 points.  It was a glorious, exciting win.


The game stats for the Rutgers game were pretty weak.  Michigan shot poorly overall (22-for-54 = 40.7%), they shot 3-pointers poorly (7-for-25 = 28.0%), and they shot free throws decently (7-for-11 = 63.6%).  They won the rebounding battle (37-31) and the turnover battle (11-13).  They won this game with rebounding and defense.  It helped that Rutgers was terrible from the free-throw line: 5-for-16 = 31.3%.

The game stats for the Wisconsin game were pretty good.  Michigan shot well overall (29-for-59 = 49.2%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (7-for-21 = 33.3%), and they shot free throws well (22-for-26 = 84.6%).  They won the rebounding battle (39-33), but lost the turnover battle (12-8).  They won this game with rebounding and free throws.  UM made twice as many free throws as Wisconsin (22-11)

Who Started?

The starters for both games were Joey Baker, Kobe Bufkin, Hunter Dickinson, Dug McDaniel, and Will Tschetter.  Baker started in place of Jett Howard, who is out with an ankle injury.  Jett didn’t dress for the Rutgers game, but he was dressed and available for the Wisconsin game, although he didn’t play.  Tschetter started in place of Terrance Williams II, who is slowed down with a bruised knee.  Williams played in both games, but he didn’t start in either of them.

Who Looked Good?

Bufkin was the star this week, with 14 points against Rutgers and a new career-high 28 points vs. Wisconsin. He also had 3 assists and 3 steals in the Rutgers game, and 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals vs. Wisconsin.

Dickinson was the star in the Wisconsin game, even though he wasn’t the high scorer, due to his deep, desperation, buzzer-beater 3-pointer at the end of regulation.  It was very exciting.  He had 23 points and 10 rebounds in that game, for another double-double.  He also had a double-double in the Rutgers game, with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

McDaniel continues to improve and impress, with a team-high 16 points vs. Rutgers and another new career high of 20 points vs. Wisconsin.  The only downside: not many assists (2 vs. Rutgers, 0 vs. Wisconsin).  Still, he’s doing a great job running the offense, and he’s scoring a lot more than he did earlier in the season.

Baker had one decent game (9 points vs. Wisconsin) and one miserable game (6 points vs. Rutgers).  6 points doesn’t sound so bad, but when you dig a little deeper, you see why it was a miserable game: 2-for-11 shooting, 2-for-9 from deep.  Ugh.

Tarris Reed, Jr. didn’t score very many points this week (2 and 5), but he played solid, rugged defense, taking some of the pressure off Dickinson.

Williams had a decent week, scoring 4 and 2 points, mostly on free throws.  He did play some pretty good defense, and he grabbed 9 and 7 rebounds.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Tschetter had a lousy week, scoring 0 points in both games, on one shot attempt (vs. Rutgers).

Who Else Played?

Jace Howard played in both games, and scored 3 and 0 points.  He hit his only shot attempt, a 3-pointer vs. Rutgers.

Who Didn’t Play?

Isaiah Barnes, Gregg Glenn III, and Youssef Khayat were the scholarship players who didn’t get to play this week.

Ian Burns, Jackson Selvala, and Cooper Smith were the practice squad players who didn’t get to play this week.

What Does It Mean?

These two wins mean that Michigan is now getting close to being “on the bubble” for the NCAA Tournament.  They’re not there yet, but they’re at least part of the discussion.  With only 2 regular season games left, Michigan probably has to win at least one of them, along with one win in the Big Ten Tournament, to stand a chance.  They still haven’t beaten a ranked team, and they’ve only beaten two good teams on the road (Northwestern and Rutgers).  They have a chance to get on the bubble this week.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games.  On Thursday (03/02/2023, 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN), they play at Illinois, then on Sunday (03/05/2023, 4:30 p.m., CBS), they play at (#17) Indiana.

Illinois is currently 19-10 (10-8 in Big Ten), with impressive wins over (#8) UCLA, (#2) Texas, (#14) Wisconsin (twice), Michigan State, (#24) Rutgers, and (#21) Northwestern, and unimpressive losses to Penn State (twice), Missouri, and Ohio State.  They don’t have any noteworthy players, but they do have some height: a 6’10” guy and a 7-footer.  There is a lot of bad blood between Michigan and Illinois, going back to their delusional arguments about winning the Big Ten over Michigan in the 2020-2021 season, and this game could get nasty.

Indiana is currently 20-9 (11-7 in Big Ten).  Michigan played IU in Crisler a couple weeks ago (02/11/2023), and lost a heartbreaker, 62-61.  This will probably be another close, exciting game, but Michigan will have to play their best to pull off the upset.

Check back next week to find out what happened and why.

Go Blue!