Nothing But ‘Net – Week #14 – 01/27/2020 – Voyage To The Bottom Of The League

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, both at home, and they lost both of them.  On Wednesday (01/22/2020), they lost to Penn State 72-63, then on Saturday (01/25/2020), they lost to (#21) Illinois 64-62.  The losses drop Michigan’s record to 11-8 (2-6 in the Big Ten).

Michigan has gone from 1st place (1-0 on 12/06/201) to a tie for 11th place in the Big Ten.  They have now lost 4 games in a row, and 5 out of the last 6.  It is a stunning turnaround from the team that started the season 7-0, won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, and was ranked #4 for one week.

What Happened?

Michigan played fairly well for parts of both games, but they allowed their opponents to go on devastating runs, and they just couldn’t hit the key baskets (or free throws) to win either game.  They were behind almost the whole time in both games, and made some runs to get back in the game, but they always came up short.  They led early in both games (21-16 with 10:31 left in the 1st half vs. PSU, and 9-4 with 16:42 left this the 1st half vs. Illinois), but frittered away both those leads.  They trailed at halftime in both games (37-28 vs. PSU, and 34-30 vs. Illinois).  PSU never trailed in the 2nd half, although UM did get within 5 points (62-57) with 3:50 left in the game.  That was as close as they got, though.  Michigan actually led a couple times in the 2nd half vs. Illinois, as late as the 0:51 mark, but they badly misplayed the final minute, and let Illinois take (and make) their last shot with 0:00.5 left.  Michigan missed their last 5 free throws, and it cost them the game.  It was very sad.

Stats  

The stats for the PSU game are terrible.  Michigan shot terribly overall (24-for-68 = 35.3%), they shot 3-pointers horribly (5-for-28 = 17.9%), and they shot free throws decently (10-for-14 = 71.4%).  They won the rebounding battle (38-35), and they tied in the turnover battle (13-13).  PSU won this game with their own 3-point shooting: 8-for-19 = 42.1%.

The stats for the Illinois game are even worse.  Michigan shot a little better overall (23-for-59 = 39.0%), they shot a better percentage from 3-point range (4-for-17 = 23.5%), but they shot terribly from the free throw line (12-for-21 = 57.1%).  Again, they won the rebounding battle (37-34), and they had a remarkable 2 turnovers (vs. 8 by Illinois).  They lost the game at the free throw line, and by only making four 3-pointers.

Who Started?

The starters for the PSU game were Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Jr., Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner.  Johns started in place of Isaiah Livers, who missed 6 games with his injury, but returned to the starting lineup for the Illinois game in place of Johns.

Who Looked Good?

Simpson was the leading scorer in both games, with 18 points vs. PSU and 17 points vs. Illinois.  However he shot a terrible percentage in the PSU game: 8-for-23 = 34.8%.  He also missed 2 of the 5 crucial free throws at the end of the Illinois game.

Johns had a good game vs. PSU (14 points), and a terrible game vs. Illinois (0 points).

Brooks also had a good game vs. PSU (12 points), and a mediocre game vs. Illinois (4 points).

Teske almost had double figures in both games (9 and 12 points).  He had 11 rebounds in the PSU game.

Livers only played in the Illinois game, and he had 7 points before he left the game in the 2nd half with a possible recurrence of his groin injury.

David DeJulius chipped in a few points (2 and 7).

Austin Davis did a nice job on defense, and scored 2 points in each game.  He did miss the front end of a one-and-one at the end of the Illinois game.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Wagner was the main reason Michigan lost both games.  Sure, he had 6 and 12 points, but he shot terribly: 1-for-9 vs. PSU, 4-for-11 vs. Illinois.  His 3-point shooting was even worse: 1-for-8 vs. PSU, and 1-for-6 vs. Illinois.  He had plenty of open, uncontested 3-point shots, and he bricked most of them.  Still, he had a chance to help Michigan beat Illinois in the closing minutes, but he missed 2 free throws.  Not a good week for him.

Colin Castleton only played for 3 minutes in the Illinois game, and he had 1 point.  Another missed key free throw.

Who Else Played?

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play?

As mentioned above, Livers was injured and didn’t play in the PSU game.

Adrien Nuñez and the practice squad (C.J. Baird, Cole Bajema, Jaron Faulds, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play in either game.

What Does It Mean?

Michigan needed to win both of the games this week to stay in Big Ten title contention, and to keep a solid seed for the NCAA Tournament.  With these losses, Michigan now stands no chance of contending for the Big Ten title, and a very small chance of even making the Big Dance.  At the rate they are falling, they may not even finish above 0.500, which would eliminate them from the NIT Tournament.  A very promising season has gone off the rails.  It’s not too late for Michigan to salvage the season, but they need to start immediately.  They can’t afford to lose many more games.  There are 12 games left in the regular season, and they need to win at least 9 of them to make the NCAA Tournament, or 5 of them to make the NIT Tournament.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, both on the road.  On Tuesday (01/28/2020, 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPNU), they play at Nebraska, then on Saturday (02/01/2020, 4:30 p.m., BTN), they play (#24) Rutgers in Madison Square Garden in New York.

Nebraska is currently 7-13 (2-7 in the Big Ten).  They are 0.5 game behind Michigan in the Big Ten standings.  They have beaten Purdue and Iowa, but lost to lowly Northwestern.  They don’t have much height (one 6’9” player), and no one even close to a star player.  This might be a team that Michigan can beat on the road.  Maybe.

Wait a minute, what’s that “(#24)” thing before Rutgers’ name above?  They’re ranked?  Yup, for the first time in several decades, Rutgers is ranked.  They’re currently 15-5 (6-3 in the Big Ten).  They’re tied with Maryland for 3rd place in the Big Ten.  They’ve beaten (#22) Seton Hall, (#20) Penn State, and Minnesota, but they’ve lost to Illinois and Iowa.  They’ve got some height (a couple 6’11” players), and a couple stars (Geo Brown and Myles Johnson).  Even though this game is being played in Madison Square Garden, Michigan is technically the home team for the game.  Yes, Michigan only gets 9 Big Ten games in Crisler Arena this season, while every other Big Ten team gets 10 true home games.  Even worse, this will be like a home game for Rutgers, since their campus is within easy driving distance of Madison Square Garden, so it’s not even a neutral site game.  The combination makes it very unlikely that Michigan will win this game.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #13 – 01/20/2020 – The Season Is Slipping Away

The (#19) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they lost it.  On Friday (01/17/2020), they lost at Iowa 90-83.  The loss drops Michigan’s record to 11-6 (2-4 in the Big Ten).  Michigan is now 0-5 in true road games this season.

What Happened?

The season is slipping away.  It started with such promise, and peaked on 11/29/2019, when Michigan beat (#8) Gonzaga soundly in the Bahamas to claim the Battle 4 Atlantis championship.  Since then, Michigan is 4-6, with only 2 of those wins against teams with a pulse (Iowa and Purdue).  They have completely lost all the swagger and momentum they had in the Bahamas, and are now utterly helpless in road games.

The Iowa game was a game of runs, and Iowa had the decisive run in the last 3:25 of the game to win it.  Both teams had decent leads at one time or another:  Michigan lead by 7 points (16-9) with 13:13 left in the 1st half, then Iowa led by 11 points (33-22) with 7:48 to go in the half.  Michigan whittled away at that lead, and got it down to 4 points (47-43) at halftime.  Iowa kept the lead in the 3-5 point range for most of the early part of the 2nd half, but Michigan made a move, and took the lead back at the 12:46 mark.  They pushed it up to 7 points (72-65) with 9:42 to go, and still led by 6 points (74-68) with 7:44 to go.  Iowa went back in front at the 5:26 mark, but it was still a 1-point Iowa lead (80-79) with 3:25 to go.  Michigan went stone cold, and didn’t score again until the 0:21 mark.  By then, the game was out of reach.

Stats  

The stats for the game are decent.  Michigan shot well overall (34-for-68 = 50.0%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (11-for-34 = 32.4%), and they shot free throws well (4-for-5 = 80.0%).  They were crushed on the boards (38-25), but they won the turnover battle (8-15).  How did they lose by 7 points with that kind of shooting?  Free throws.  But, wait, they shot 80% from the free throw line, right?  Yeah, but Iowa shot 30 free throws!  30!  And, they made 27 of them (90%).  That’s a 23-point difference.  They earned most of the free throws, but some of them were “homer” calls by the refs.  Still, Iowa had a plan to drive the ball at Michigan in the paint, and it worked.  They either got the basket or got to shoot free throws, and they made them count.

Oh yeah, remember Luka Garza, who I mentioned last week?  He had 44 points the first time Iowa played Michigan (in Ann Arbor), and he had another big game this time, with 33 points,  11 of them on free throws (11-for-13).  He also hit 2-for-3 from 3-point range.  He was the difference in the game.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Jr., Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner for both games.  Johns started in place of Isaiah Livers, who is still out with a groin injury.  He has now missed 5 games with his injury, and UM is 1-4 in those games.  Michigan needs him back, now.

Who Looked Good?

Brooks had a monster game, with (career-high) 25 points on 9-for-17 shooting, including 5-for-11 from 3-point range.  He single-handedly kept Michigan in the game, but it wasn’t enough.

Wagner had a good game, with 18 points.  Unfortunately, he was only 2-for-8 from 3-point range.

Teske had a good game offensively, with 14 points, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range, but he couldn’t stop, or even slow down, Garza.

Simpson only had 7 points, but he did have 6 assists.

David DeJulius had a decent game, with 10 points.  Unfortunately, he shot poorly: 5-for-12 overall, 0-for-3 from 3-point range.

Austin Davis didn’t score much (4 points), but he played good defense while giving Teske a rest.  He actually did better guarding Garza than Teske did.

Adrien Nuñez did hit a 3-pointer.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Johns had 2 points and 5 fouls.

Colin Castleton had 0 points.

Who Else Played?

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play?

As mentioned above, Livers was injured and didn’t play.

The practice squad (C.J. Baird, Cole Bajema, Jaron Faulds, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

Michigan is in free fall.  They are almost certainly out of contention for the Big Ten title, they are almost certainly out of the Top 25, and they are in serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament.  They now have a solid mental block about winning on the road, and they stand a very real chance of going 0-10 on the road in the league this season.  They might be able to sneak past Northwestern in Evanston on 02/12/2020, but that’s their only hope for a road victory.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, both in Crisler Arena.  On Wednesday (01/22/2020, 7:00 p.m., BTN), they play Penn State, then on Saturday (01/25/2020, 12:00 p.m., FS1), they play Illinois.

Penn State?  They’re never good, and Michigan always beats them, right?  Not so fast.  They’re actually good-ish this season.  They have a better record than Michigan (13-5, 3-4 in the Big Ten), and they’ve beaten some good teams this season: Georgetown, Syracuse, Wake Forest, (#4) Maryland, Alabama, (#23) Iowa, and (#21) Ohio State.  They don’t have much height (no one over 6’9”), but they do have a star: Lamar Stevens.  Michigan should win this game, especially since it’s in Ann Arbor, but they’ll have to play very well to do it.

Michigan has already played Illinois this season, back in December (12/11/2019) on the road.  This was the first of a couple road games that Michigan could have won, but didn’t.  Since then, Illinois has done very well.  They’re currently 13-5 (5-2 in the Big Ten), and in 2nd place in the league.  Does the name Kofi Cockburn ring a bell?  It should.  He had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in the first game against Michigan, and I expect him to have another monster game this time around.  With all the trouble Michigan has had guarding big men, Illinois would be crazy to not go to Cockburn all game long.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #12 – 01/13/2020 – The Endgame

The (#19) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won one and lost the other.  On Thursday (01/09/2020), they beat Purdue 84-78 in double overtime in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/12/2020), they lost at Minnesota 75-67.  The win and the loss leave Michigan with a record of 11-5 (2-3 in the Big Ten).  Michigan is now 0-4 in true road games this season.

What Happened?

Both games were exciting, especially if you were rooting for the home team.  Both games were close, and Michigan could have won or lost either game.  The difference was that Michigan played well at the end of the Purdue game, and they fell apart at the end of the Minnesota game.

The lead seesawed back and forth for the entire Purdue game, with neither team getting more than 6 points ahead until Michigan finally went up by 9 points in the 2nd overtime.  That was enough of a lead, and Michigan hung on for the 6-point win.

Michigan played a very solid first 15 minutes against Minnesota, and built up an impressive 11-point lead (30-19) with 5:13 left in the 1st half.  And then, they threw the game away.  Over the next 5:13, they scored exactly 1 point, and let Minnesota go on an 11-1 run to finish the half, with Michigan clinging to a 31-30 lead.  The momentum was gone, and Minnesota led for most of the 2nd half.  Michigan fought back, and actually led by 1 point again (65-64) with 3:22 to go.  That was it, though, as they let Minnesota go on an 11-2 run to finish the game.  Those two runs at the end of each half added up to 22-3 in almost 9 minutes.  Michigan scored 3 points in 9 minutes.  They deserved to lose.

Stats  

The stats for the Purdue game are mediocre at best.  Michigan shot decently overall (31-for-66 = 47.0%), they shot 3-pointers very poorly (7-for-29 = 24.1%), and they shot free throws poorly (15-for-24 = 62.5%).  They lost the rebounding battle badly (47-35), but won the turnover battle (9-15).  The free throw shooting almost cost them the game, as they missed several attempts that would have put the game away, especially the front end of one-and-one opportunities.

The stats for the Minnesota game are actually better than the Purdue stats.  Michigan shot poorly overall (26-for-62 = 41.9%), they shot 3-pointers decently (10-for-28 = 35.7%), and they shot free throws very well, but not many of them (5-for-6 = 83.3%).  They lost the rebounding battle (33-30) and the turnover battle (8-5).

I don’t often mention opposing players, but there is a disturbing trend going on this season: Michigan has been the unlucky recipient of career games by several opposing players, most of them centers/big men.  Michigan has won some of these games (Iowa and Purdue), and lost some (Michigan State and Minnesota).  It feels like Michigan is playing good defense, including good interior defense, but no one can seem to stop, or even slow down, these players when they get going.  They are:

  • Luka Garza, center, Iowa.  He had 44 points on 17-for-32 shooting.  Michigan won the game, 103-91.
  • Cassius Winston, guard, Michigan State.  He had 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting.  Michigan lost the game, 87-69.
  • Trevion Williams, forward, Purdue.  He had 36 points on 16-for-28 shooting.  Michigan won the game, 84-78 in 2OT.
  • Daniel Oturu, center, Minnesota.  He had 30 points on 13-for-18 shooting.  Michigan lost the game, 75-67.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Jr., Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner for both games.  Johns started in place of Isaiah Livers, who is still out with a groin injury.  Michigan needs him back, now.

Who Looked Good?

Simpson was the leading scorer in both games, with 22 points vs. Purdue and 19 points vs. Minnesota.  He also had 9 assists in each game.

Wagner was the only other Michigan player to hit double figures in both games, with 15 and 17 points.  He’s finally starting to get his 3-point stroke back: 3-for-9 vs. Purdue and 4-for-9 vs. Minnesota.

Teske almost hit double figures in both games, with 18 and 9 points.  He was slowed down by foul trouble in the Minnesota game.

Johns played hard, scoring 8 and 5 points.

Brooks chipped in some points (4 and 9).

David DeJulius hit double figures in the Purdue game (11 points), and had 6 points in the Minnesota game.

Austin Davis didn’t score much (4 and 2 points), but he played good defense while giving Teske a rest.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Colin Castleton had a disappointing week: 2 and 0 points.

Adrien Nuñez played sparingly, and didn’t score in either game.

Who Else Played?

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play?

As mentioned above, Livers was injured and didn’t play in either game.

The practice squad (C.J. Baird, Cole Bajema, Jaron Faulds, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play in either game.

What Does It Mean?

Will Michigan win a true road game this season?  Not likely.  If they don’t, they’re looking at a record of (at best) 19-12 (10-10 in the Big Ten), which probably won’t get them into the NCAA Tournament.  And that’s assuming they’ll win all their home games, which isn’t very likely.  In short, they have to win at least half of their remaining road games to get into the Big Dance.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan only plays one game, on the road.  On Friday (01/17/2020, 9:00 p.m. EST, FS1), they play at Iowa.

Michigan has already played Iowa once this season, back in December (12/06/2019), when Michigan won 103-91 in Crisler Arena.  Since then, Iowa has gone 5-2, and is currently 11-5 (2-3 in the Big Ten), exactly the same record as Michigan.  Last time, Luka Garza went off for 44 points, but Michigan still managed to win.  Since this is a road game, I’m expecting Michigan to lose, and since Michigan is having trouble containing opposing “bigs”, I’m expecting Garza to score at least 40 points.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #11 – 01/06/2020 – Road Woes

The (#12) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they lost it.  On Sunday (01/05/2020), they lost at (#14) Michigan State 87-69.  The loss drops Michigan’s record to 10-4 (1-2 in the Big Ten).

What Happened?

Michigan still hasn’t won a true road game this season (0-3).  They never led in the Louisville game back on 12/03/2019, they trailed the entire 2nd half in the Illinois game on 12/11/2019, and they never led in the MSU game this week.  They just let the game slowly get out of reach.  It’s maddening to watch.  The deficit was 8-12 points in the 1st half, and 12-16 points in the 2nd half.  Every time Michigan would start to creep a little closer, MSU would go on a quick run to extend the lead further.

Stats  

The stats for the game are sad.  Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (25-for-69 = 36.2%), they shot 3-pointers very poorly (5-for-23 = 21.7%), and they shot free throws poorly (14-for-22 = 63.6%).  They lost the rebounding battle badly (43-34), but won the turnover battle (10-13).  The 3-point shooting is what doomed them.  They missed wide-open (or reasonably open) 3-pointers at critical moments, and they couldn’t recover.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Jr., Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner.  Johns started in place of Isaiah Livers, who is out indefinitely with a groin injury.

Who Looked Good?

Teske was the leading scorer, with 15 points.  He shot 6-for-12 overall, 1-for-3 from deep.

Simpson had 14 points and 8 assists, but he shot a lousy percentage:  6-for-18 overall, 1-for-6 from 3-point range.

Johns played hard, scoring 12 points, including a 3-pointer.

Wagner was the only other Michigan player in double figures, with 10 points.

David DeJulius almost hit double figures, with 8 points.  He didn’t shoot very well: 3-for-9 overall.

Austin Davis did a respectable job out there, with 7 points and 4 rebounds.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Brooks had a terrible game: 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting.

Colin Castleton also had a disappointing game: 0 points on 0-for-4 shooting.

Who Else Played?

Coach Howard emptied the bench at the end of the game, so everyone who was healthy played: C.J. Baird, Cole Bajema, Jaron Faulds, Adrien Nuñez, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, and Luke Wilson.  None of them attempted a shot.

Who Didn’t Play?

As mentioned above, Livers was injured and didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

Is Michigan as bad as they’ve looked in their 3 true road games, or as good as they looked when they beat a pair of Top-10 teams in back-to-back games in the Bahamas?  They certainly have the talent to win the games they’ve been losing, but they seem to get flustered too easily by a large, loud, hostile crowd.

Can Michigan still contend for the Big Ten title?  Not likely, but not impossible.

Will Michigan make it to the Big Dance?  Probably, but they need to win a few road games.

Will Michigan still be ranked this week?  Probably not.  They don’t deserve it.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one home and one on the road.  On Thursday (01/09/2020, 7:00 p.m., FS1), they play Purdue in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/12/2020, 1:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Minnesota.

Purdue is currently 9-6 (2-2 in the Big Ten), with a couple impressive wins ([#20] VCU and [#5] Virginia), a few understandable losses (Texas, Florida State, and [#17] Butler), and a couple less impressive losses (Marquette and Nebraska).  They have height (7’3” Matt Haarms), but no real star.  This is a team that Michigan should beat, and needs to beat, but they’ll have to play their “A” game to do it.

Minnesota is currently 8-6 (2-2 in the Big Ten), with a couple impressive wins (Clemson and [#6] Ohio State), a few understandable losses (Oklahoma, Butler, Iowa, and Purdue), and a couple less impressive losses (Utah and DePaul).  They have some height (a couple 6’10” guys), but no real star.  This is another team that Michigan should beat, but as we’ve seen, it’s tough to win on the road, especially in the Big Ten.  Minnesota always plays well in The Barn, so this is going to be another tough one.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #10 – 12/30/2019 – The Last Cupcake & Mid-Term Grades

The (#11) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it.  On Sunday (12/29/2019), they beat UMass-Lowell 86-60 in Crisler Arena.  The win raises Michigan’s record to 10-3 (1-1 in the Big Ten).

What Happened?

This was Michigan’s last “cupcake” game of the season.  Starting next week, Michigan plays 18 Big Ten games in a row.  There are no cupcakes in the Big Ten this season.

UML was overmatched, and they never really stood a chance.  Michigan had a huge height advantage, and they took full advantage of it.  UM led the whole way, by 17 at halftime (42-25), and as many as 32 points in the 2nd half.  Coach Howard emptied the bench, and the game was never in doubt.

Stats

The stats for the game are pretty good.  Michigan shot pretty well overall (36-for-67 = 53.7%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (8-for-21 = 38.1%), and they shot free throws very well (6-for-7 = 85.7%).  They won the rebounding battle handily (41-25), but they lost the turnover battle (14-13).

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns, Jr., Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske, and Franz Wagner.  Johns started in place of Isaiah Livers, who is out indefinitely with a groin injury he suffered in the opening minutes of the win over Presbyterian.

Who Looked Good?

Teske was the leading scorer, with a career-high 25 points.  He also had 8 rebounds.  He had 6 inches on the tallest UML player, so he was able to score at will.  He shot 11-for-14 overall.

Brooks was the only other Michigan player in double figures, with 15 points.  He shot 3-for-7 from 3-point range.

Simpson almost hit double figures, with 9 points.  He also had 10 assists.

Johns had a solid game, with 6 points on 3-for-4 shooting.

Austin Davis played 13 minutes, and looked good out there.  He scored 7 points, on 3-for-4 shooting, and only had 1 foul.

Colin Castleton played 13 minutes, and did a decent job.  He scored 4 points and had (team-high) 9 rebounds.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Wagner only had 4 points, on 2-for-4 shooting.  We’ve seen him score 21 points against similar competition.  Michigan will need his scoring going forward.

David DeJulius only had 3 points, on 1-for-5 shooting (1-for-3 from 3-point range).

Adrien Nuñez had 6 points, but needed 7 shots to get them.  He shot 2-for-7 overall, 2-for-5 from 3-point range.

Who Else Played?

C.J. Baird played for 4 minutes, but didn’t score.

Cole Bajema had 2 points.

Jaron Faulds had 2 points.

Rico Ozuna-Harrison played for 2 minutes, but didn’t score.

Luke Wilson hit his only shot attempt, a 3-pointer, for his first career points.

Who Didn’t Play?

As mentioned above, Livers was injured and didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

This was a meaningless game.  Michigan was heavily favored to win, and they did the job.  It’s hard to learn anything from a game against such an overmatched opponent.

Mid-Term Grades

Michigan has played 13 games, with 18 left in the regular season, so this is pretty close to the halfway point.  Time for mid-term grades.

Freshman Eligibility

Cole Bajema (Inc.) – Cole has only played in 6 games so far, and scored 18 points.  He has looked like a freshman out there.

Jaron Faulds (Inc.) – Jaron has only played in 3 games so far, and scored 4 points.  He’s on the practice squad, and only plays in “garbage time”.

Franz Wagner (B) – Franz missed the first 4 games of the season with a broken wrist, but he has played pretty well since his return.  He has a nice 3-point stroke, but his 3-point shooting percentage should be better (10-for-34 = 29.4%).

Sophomore Eligibility

Colin Castleton (B) – Colin has had a few good games (Appalachian State, Houston Baptist, and Iowa State), and several 0-4 point games (the rest).  His defense has improved, but his offense is still inconsistent.

David DeJulius (B+) – David is one of the most improved players on the team.  He’s had 6 games in double figures, and a couple more with 9 points.  He’s shooting a nice percentage from 3-point range (18-for-43 = 41.9%), and he’s done a good job on defense.  He even plays a little point guard every now and then.

Brandon Johns, Jr. (B) – Brandon is another player who has improved a lot from last season.  He’s playing with a lot more confidence.  He’s only had one game in double figures (Iowa), but he’s contributed in other ways, including rebounding and defense.

Adrien Nuñez (C-) – Adrien still hasn’t turned the corner.  He got his chances early, when he started the first 4 games in place of the injured Franz Wagner, and he didn’t really contribute much.  He’s supposed to be one of the better 3-point shooters on the team, but so far he’s only 9-for-31 (29.0%).

Junior Eligibility

C.J. Baird (Inc.) – C.J. has only played in 4 games so far, and scored 7 points.  He’s on the practice squad, and only plays in “garbage time”.

Eli Brooks (A-) – Eli is the other candidate for “most improved player”.  He’s had 7 games in double figures, including a couple 24-point performances (Appalachian State and North Carolina).  He’s averaging 11.5 points per game, and shooting a nice percentage from 3-point range (25-for-53 = 47.2%).

Austin Davis (C+) – Austin has played better so far this season than the rest of his career, but he’s still a “project”.  There are some things he does well, like defense, rebounding, and dunking, and other things that he’s still working on, like mid-range shooting and passing.  The biggest improvement has been that he’s cut way down on his silly fouls.

Isaiah Livers (A) – Isaiah is the most versatile player on the team, and arguably the most valuable.  When he went out with a groin injury, he led the team in scoring (13.6 points/game) and 3-point shooting percentage (29-for-58 = 50.0%).  Hopefully, he won’t miss too many games with his injury.

Rico Ozuna-Harrison (Inc.) – Rico has only played in 3 games so far, and scored 2 points.  He’s on the practice squad, and only plays in “garbage time”.

Luke Wilson (Inc.) – Luke has only played in 4 games so far, and scored 3 points.  He’s on the practice squad, and only plays in “garbage time”.

Senior Eligibility

Zavier Simpson (A) – Zavier is the undisputed leader of this team, and he’s done a good job at it.  He’s had 6 games in double figures scoring, and 5 games in double figures for assists.  He’s even shooting a nice percentage from 3-point range (12-for-30 = 40.0%).

Jon Teske (A) – Jon has gotten better every season, and he’s playing very well this season.  He’s scored in double figures every game except 2 (Houston Baptist and Oregon), and he’s had double-digit rebounds in 4 games.  He hasn’t found his 3-point stroke yet this season (7-for-26 = 26.9%), but he hits enough of them to keep the opposing centers honest.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan only plays one game, but it’s a big one.  On Sunday (01/05/2020, 1:30/4:30 p.m., CBS), they play at (#14) Michigan State.

MSU is currently 10-3 (2-0 in the Big Ten), with a few big wins ([#12] Seton Hall, Georgia, and UCLA), a couple understandable losses ([#2] Kentucky and [#10] Duke), and one embarrassing loss (Virginia Tech).  They started the season ranked #1, but have underperformed so far.  They have some height (a 7’0” guy and a 6’11” guy), and one star (Cassius Winston).  They are always tough at home, especially when Izzo intimidates the refs.  Michigan is going to have to play very well to win this one.

Check back next week to see how Michigan did.

Go Blue!