Nothing But ‘Net – Week #21 – 03/18/2019 – Hey, 10 Out Of 11 Ain’t Bad

The (#10) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played three games last week as the 3-seed in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago, and they won two and lost one. On Friday (03/15/2019), they beat (5-seed) Iowa 74-53 in the quarterfinals, on Saturday (03/16/2019), they beat (7-seed) Minnesota 76-49 in the semifinals, then on Sunday (03/17/2019), they lost to (1-seed) (#6) Michigan State 65-60 in the championship game. The two wins and one loss leave Michigan with a record of 28-6.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: 10 out of 11?

A: Despite coming up short in the last minute of the championship game, Michigan set a new Big Ten record when they won their first two games of the tournament. Combined with a 4-0 record in 2017 and a 4-0 record in 2018, they are the only Big Ten team to ever win 10 Big Ten Tournament games in a row, which is quite an accomplishment. But, oh how that last one would have been sweet…

Q: So, what happened?

A: Michigan played two of their better games of the season in the wins over Iowa and Minnesota. In the Iowa game, they trailed early (6-4 with 18:35 to go in the 1st half), then went ahead for good, 7-6. The lead was in the 4-6 point range for most of the 1st half, with a quick 11-4 run in the last 4:37 to make it a comfortable 40-27 lead at halftime. Iowa got within 10 points (40-30) in the first minute of the 2nd half, then Michigan pulled away and got the lead as high as 26 points (72-46 with 4:25 to go) before clearing the bench. It was a fun, low-stress game.

Michigan did even better in the Minnesota game. Michigan never trailed, although Minnesota did tie the game twice (11-11 and 13-13) early in the 1st half. Once Michigan started pulling away, the game was over. They were doubling Minnesota (38-19) at halftime, and they pushed the lead as high as 35 points (74-39) before clearing the bench again. It was another fun, low-stress game.

The MSU game was anything but low-stress. It was close and tight for most of the 1st half, with MSU leading by 3-5 points. Michigan tied it up (17-17) with 7:01 left in the half, then went on a beautiful 14-6 run to end the half up 8 points (31-23). Michigan extended the lead to 13 points (39-26) with 17:12 to go, and still led by 12 points (41-29) with 15:40 to go, when they hit another dry spell. MSU went on a slow 15-5 run to cut the lead to 2 points (46-44) with 10:33 to go. They tied it up (48-48) with 7:15 left, but Michigan clung to a slim lead until the 1:19 mark, when MSU tied it up again (60-60). MSU went ahead for the first time in 26 minutes (62-60) with 28 seconds left. Michigan tried a shot with 13 seconds left, missed, and the ball went out of bounds. The original (correct) call was “Michigan ball”, but the miserable refs looked at the replay for a while and gave the ball (and the game) to MSU. The last 3 points for MSU were inconsequential. The game was decided when the refs gave MSU the ball.

Now, I’m not saying that Michigan would have scored 2 (or 3) points in the last 13 seconds to tie it up or win it, but they stood no chance once the refs gave MSU the ball. It was a disgraceful way to end an exciting game.

Q: It sounds like you’ve got some complaints about the refs?

A: The refs didn’t matter in the first two blowout wins, and they were mostly OK for most of the MSU game, but when the chips were down, they sucked. They blew that last call, and there’s no other way to put it.

Q: How were the game stats?

A: Actually, the stats were good-to-very-good in all three games. Better in the two wins, of course.

Because there was extended “garbage time” in both of the wins, I’ve removed the parade of missed shots by the deep bench players in the two wins. Michigan had very good stats in those two games, and the garbage time numbers really make the final stats look way worse than they really were. If you want to see the official stats, follow the links.

In the Iowa game, Michigan shot well overall (27-for-56 = 48.2%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (10-for-26 = 38.5%), and they shot free throws decently (8-for-12 = 66.7%). They won the rebounding battle (40-37) and the turnover battle (7-11). By the way, in this game, the garbage time players contributed 1-for-6 shooting overall, 0-for-4 from 3-point range.

In the Minnesota game, Michigan shot very well overall (32-for-55 = 58.2%), they shot 3-pointers very well (10-for-21 = 47.6%), and they shot free throws perfectly, if not very often (2-for-2 = 100%). They won the rebounding battle handily (37-27) and the turnover battle barely (7-8). The garbage time numbers for this game were even worse: 0-for-7 overall, 0-for-5 from deep.

In the MSU game, Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (21-for-51 = 41.2%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (8-for-25 = 32.0%), but they did shoot free throws well (10-for-12 = 83.3%). As usual when they play MSU, Michigan got hammered on the boards (38-29), but they did win the turnover battle (6-9). Looking at the stats, this was an incredibly close game that was decided by the refs, not the players.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good tournament:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis had a great tournament. He was the leading scorer in two games (Iowa and MSU), and the 3rd leading scorer in the other game (Minnesota), with 15, 13, and 19 points. He hit lots of big 3-pointers, and he played good defense.
  • Isaiah Livers also had a great tournament. After starting the last three games of the regular season in place of the injured Charles Matthews, he came off the bench in these three games, and he delivered. He scored 13, 21, and 8 points, and was the high scorer in the Minnesota game. Those 21 points are a new career high for him. He shot very well in that game (8-for-10 overall, 4-for-6 from deep).
  • Zavier Simpson had a good tournament, although he had a tough time against MSU. He hit double figures in the two wins (10 and 15 points), but he only had 6 points vs. MSU. Even more than his scoring, he set a new Big Ten Tournament record with 30 assists in three games (11, 9, and 10), against only 2 turnovers. He had a double-double in the Iowa game, with 10 points and 11 assists.
  • Jordan Poole almost hit double figures in all three games: 11, 9, and 13 points. Unfortunately, his poor 3-point shooting in the MSU game (2-for-9) really hurt.
  • Jon Teske also almost hit double figures in all three games: 12, 5, and 10 points. He had 10 rebounds each in the Iowa and MSU games, for two double-doubles. He played excellent defense.
  • Eli Brooks contributed off the bench, with 6, 5, and 2 points. He also played some good defense, and ran the offense pretty well while Simpson was on the bench.

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

A: Only one player had a rough tournament:

  • Charles Matthews was back from his ankle injury, and it didn’t seem to bother him, but he just didn’t do much out there. He just kind of drifted around, and shot a mid-range jumper every now and then. He did play good defense, but he didn’t score many points: 5, 8, and 2.

Q: Who else played in the tournament?

A: Coach Beilein emptied the bench in the closing minutes of the two blowout wins:

  • C.J. Baird attempted two 3-pointers vs. Iowa, and one more vs. Minnesota. They all missed.
  • Colin Castleton played in all three games, and attempted one shot vs. Minnesota. It missed.
  • Austin Davis attempted one shot in the Iowa game, and made it. He attempted one shot in the Minnesota game, and missed it. He was the only “deep bench” player to score.
  • David DeJulius attempted one 3-pointer vs. Iowa, and two 3-pointers vs. Minnesota. They all missed.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. attempted two shots against Iowa, one of them a 3-pointer. They both missed. He didn’t attempt a shot vs. Minnesota.
  • Adrien Nuñez didn’t attempt a shot vs. Iowa. He attempted two 3-pointers vs. Minnesota. They both missed.
  • Luke Wilson didn’t attempt a shot vs. Iowa. He attempted one shot vs. Minnesota. It missed.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan is as good as MSU, but can’t overcome bad officiating.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan plays in the NCAA Tournament, starting this week. Despite coming in 3rd in the regular season Big Ten standings, and losing to MSU in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, Michigan is still a 2-seed, in the West Region. They open play on Thursday (03/21/2019, 9:20 p.m. EDT, TNT) vs. (15-seed) Montana in Des Moines, IA. If they win that game, they’ll play the winner of the (7-seed) Nevada/(10-seed) Florida game on Saturday (03/23/2019, TBA, TBA) for a trip to the Sweet 16.

Montana is currently 26-8 (16-4 in the Big Sky). They won their conference tournament for the 2nd year in a row, and they’re facing Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the 2nd year in a row. Last year, Michigan beat them 61-47 in a game that was a lot closer than the final score would indicate. They didn’t beat anyone noteworthy in the regular season, and they lost to some not-too-impressive opponents: Georgia Southern, Creighton, UC-Irvine, Arizona, Portland State (twice), Eastern Washington, and Northern Colorado. They have a little height (a couple 6’10” guys) and no superstars. Michigan should be able to beat them, as long as they play a reasonable game.

Q: What do you think about Michigan’s seed/placement in the NCAA Tournament?

A: I think that it’s great! After losing to MSU three times in the last three weeks, I was expecting a 3-seed or even a 4-seed, so a 2-seed is very generous. It’s the same seed that MSU got. It’s obvious that the tournament committee realized that Michigan and MSU are dead even this season, despite the game results.

As far as placement, I’d much rather be a 2-seed in a region with Gonzaga than Duke. The other teams in Michigan’s half of the West Region aren’t particularly scary: (3-seed) Texas Tech, (6-seed) Buffalo, and (7-seed) Nevada.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #20 – 03/11/2019 – Oh Well…

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team only played one game last week, and they lost it. On Saturday (03/09/2019), they lost at (#9) Michigan State 75-63. The loss leaves Michigan with a final regular season record of 26-5 (15-5 in the Big Ten). Michigan finished in 3rd place in the league.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Oh well?

A: Yeah, oh well. Thanks to Purdue’s unexpected loss at Minnesota on Tuesday, the Michigan/MSU game was for a share of the Big Ten title, and Michigan lost that chance. It would have been great to beat MSU on their home floor for Senior Night on national TV and grab a share of the Big Ten title, but it didn’t work out. Fortunately, there are still other goals out there for Michigan to aspire to: a 3rd consecutive Big Ten Tournament title, and a national title.

Q: So, what happened?

A: Michigan played a good, solid game for the first 26 minutes of the game, then fell apart for the last 14 minutes. UM led by 12 points (35-23) with 3:12 left to go in the 1st half, but MSU cut the deficit in half by halftime (35-29). Michigan stretched the lead to 8 points (48-40) with 13:57 left, then went stone cold. Over the next 8 minutes, MSU went on a devastating 25-4 run that put the game out of reach (65-52 with 5:58 left). Michigan never got any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Q: How were the game stats?

A: Not very good. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (25-for-62 = 40.3%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (8-for-22 = 36.4%), and they shot free throws well (5-for-7 = 71.4%). They were absolutely crushed on the boards (46-20), but they won the turnover battle (5-12). MSU outscored UM from the free-throw line 23-5. Along with the 26 rebound edge, UM stood no chance.

Complete stats here.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good game:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis had a good game, until he fouled out 5:10 left. He scored 20 points, including 3-for-3 shooting from 3-point range.
  • Jordan Poole was the only other Michigan player in double figures, with 15 points. He didn’t shoot very well: 6-for-15 overall, 3-for-7 from deep.
  • Jon Teske almost hit double figures (8 points), and did his best defending MSU’s smaller, more agile post players.
  • Eli Brooks had one of his better games of the Big Ten season, with 5 points, including a 3-pointer.

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

A: Everyone else:

  • Zavier Simpson had his worst game in a while, when UM needed him the most. He scored 6 points on terrible shooting: 3-for-13 overall, 0-for-3 from deep. He usually plays good defense, but he couldn’t slow down MSU’s Cassius Winston (23 points).
  • Isaiah Livers started in place of Charles Matthews again, and he had a mediocre game: 5 points on 2-for-6 (1-for-4 from deep) shooting.
  • Colin Castleton was the backup center again this game, and he didn’t do much: 2 points in 9 minutes.
  • David DeJulius played 7 minutes, and scored 2 points, on 1-for-5 shooting.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. played 13 minutes, and missed his only shot.

Q: Who else played this week?

A: Coach Beilein played a couple bench players in the last minute: Austin Davis and Adrien Nuñez. Neither of them attempted a shot.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan still can’t deal with adversity. It’s been a problem all season. This team has the talent to beat anyone in the country, but the mental part of the game is what trips them up. When the going gets tough, especially on the road, Michigan often folds.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan plays in the Big Ten Tournament this week, in Chicago. As one of the top four seeds, Michigan gets a double bye, and begins play in the quarterfinals on Friday (03/15/2019, 9:30 p.m. EDT, BTN) against the winner of the game on Thursday between (#6 seed) Iowa and the winner of the game on Wednesday between (#14 seed) Northwestern and (#11 seed) Illinois.

If Michigan wins on Friday, they advance to the semifinal round Saturday (03/16/2019, 3:30 p.m. EDT, CBS) against the winner of Friday’s game between (#2 seed) Purdue and the winner of Thursday’s game between (#7 seed) Minnesota and (#10 seed) Penn State.

The two top seeds on the other side of the bracket are (#1 seed) Michigan State and (#4 seed) Wisconsin, and the championship game in on Sunday (03/17/2019, 3:30 p.m. EDT, CBS).

Michigan has won the last two Big Ten Tournament championships in a row, for an 8-game winning streak. They are seeded much higher this season than they have been the last two seasons. We’ll see if that helps.

The complete bracket is here.

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

Go Blue!

Mr. March

Mr. March

Drew Montag

03/04/2019

 

 

Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s basketball coach, has a reputation for being “Mr. March”. The accepted wisdom is that his teams round into form and start playing their best basketball when March rolls around. Let’s look at the last three seasons, and compare that to Michigan’s record in March over the same period:

 

Michigan State

Michigan

Regular season

0-3

2-1

Big Ten Tournament

2-2

8-0

NCAA Tournament

2-2

7-1

Totals

4-7

17-2

“Mr. March” indeed.

Here are all the game results, in case you don’t believe it.

Michigan State:

2016-2017

03/01/2017 L 73-70 Illinois (Regular season)

03/04/2017 L 63-60 Maryland (Regular season)

03/09/2017 W 78-51 Penn State (Big Ten Tournament)

03/10/2017 L 63-58 Minnesota (Big Ten Tournament)

03/17/2017 W 78-58 Miami (FL) (NCAA Tournament)

03/19/2017 L 90-70 Kansas (NCAA Tournament)

2017-2018

03/02/2018 W 63-60 Wisconsin (Big Ten Tournament)

03/03/2018 L 75-64 Michigan (Big Ten Tournament)

03/16/2018 W 82-78 Bucknell (NCAA Tournament)

03/18/2018 L 55-53 Syracuse (NCAA Tournament)

2018-2019

03/01/2019 L 63-62 Indiana (Regular season)

Michigan:

2016-2017

03/01/2017 L 67-65 Northwestern (Regular season)

03/05/2017 W 93-57 Nebraska (Regular season)

03/09/2017 W 75-55 Illinois (Big Ten Tournament)

03/10/2017 W 74-40 Purdue (Big Ten Tournament)

03/11/2017 W 84-77 Minnesota (Big Ten Tournament)

03/12/2017 W 71-56 Wisconsin (Big Ten Tournament)

03/17/2017 W 92-91 Oklahoma State (NCAA Tournament)

03/19/2017 W 73-69 Louisville (NCAA Tournament)

03/23/2017 L 69-68 Oregon (NCAA Tournament)

2017-2018

03/01/2018 W 77-71 Iowa (Big Ten Tournament)

03/02/2018 W 77-58 Nebraska (Big Ten Tournament)

03/03/2018 W 75-64 Michigan State (Big Ten Tournament)

03/04/2018 W 75-66 Purdue (Big Ten Tournament)

03/15/2018 W 61-47 Montana (NCAA Tournament)

03/17/2018 W 64-63 Houston (NCAA Tournament)

03/22/2018 W 99-72 Texas A&M (NCAA Tournament)

03/24/2018 W 58-54 Florida State (NCAA Tournament)

03/31/2018 W 69-57 Loyola-Chicago (NCAA Tournament)

2018-2019

03/03/2019 W 69-62 Maryland (Regular season)

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #19 – 03/04/2019 – The Race For Second Place

The (#9) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won them both. On Thursday (02/28/2019), they beat Nebraska 82-53 in Crisler, then on Sunday (03/03/2019), they won at (#17) Maryland 69-62. The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 26-4 (15-4 in the Big Ten).

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: The race for second place?

A: Yeah, unfortunately, Purdue is probably going to win the Big Ten regular season championship outright, but Michigan and Michigan State are now tied for 2nd place in the loss column, and the last game of the season should decide that. Purdue is currently 15-3 in the Big Ten, with two games left: at Minnesota on Tuesday (03/05), and at Northwestern on Saturday (03/09). They will be heavily favored in both games, and if they win them both, they’ll win the league outright. Michigan is currently 15-4 and MSU is 14-4. MSU has two games left: home vs. Nebraska on Tuesday, and home vs. Michigan on Saturday. MSU should handle Nebraska, setting up the big game for 2nd place on Saturday.

Q: So, what happened?

A: The Nebraska game was a nice, solid, encouraging win. Michigan opened up a quick early lead (5-0), built on it (10-2), and never let Nebraska get close. It was a 22-point lead (43-21) at halftime, and Nebraska never got closer than 17 points the rest of the way. It was a great game to have as the last home game of the season. Everyone got to play (with one exception), and it was a fun, stress-free game. The one exception: Charles Matthews who missed the game (and the Maryland game) due to an ankle injury he suffered in the MSU game. It was a shame, because Charles is the only senior on the team, and it was Senior Night. Charles has one more year of eligibility left, but Michigan is short one scholarship next season, so he will probably either try his luck with the NBA draft or go elsewhere for his “grad year” transfer.

The Maryland game was much more exciting. Maryland led early, but Michigan never let them get very far ahead, typically 3-5 points. Michigan tied the game repeatedly, but couldn’t “get over the hump” and get ahead until there was 2:16 left in the 1st half, when they finally pulled ahead 24-22. Michigan finished the half on a 4-0 run to lead by 4 at halftime, 28-24. Maryland had a 9-2 run early in the 2nd half to reclaim the lead, 36-35 with 15:50 to go. They still led, 43-41, with 11:23 left, when Michigan went on a 12-2 run of their own, and led 53-45, with 4:38 to go. Maryland never got closer than 5 points the rest of the way. It was a great win, especially since road wins are so hard to get in the Big Ten.

Q: Any problems with the officiating?

A: Nah, they were reasonable, for Big Ten refs.

Q: How were the game stats?

A: About what you would expect: great for the blow-out win over Nebraska, and barely acceptable for the close win over Maryland.

In the Nebraska game, Michigan shot very well overall (30-for-54 = 55.6%), they shot 3-pointers very well (12-for-22 = 54.5%), but they didn’t shoot free throws very well (10-for-19 = 52.6%). They crushed Nebraska on the boards (43-31), but they lost the turnover battle badly (13-7). The 3-point shooting was the reason Michigan won.

In the Maryland game, Michigan shot decently overall (25-for-57 = 43.9%), they shot 3-pointers pretty poorly (6-for-20 = 30.0%), and they shot free throws very well (13-for-15 = 86.7%). They lost the rebounding battle (35-31), but they won the turnover battle (4-9). Since Maryland had almost identical overall (25-for-58) and 3-point (6-for-20) shooting stats, the difference was at the free throw line, where Maryland only shot 6-for-10. Those extra 7 points were the exact margin of victory.

Here’s an amazing bit of trivia: all five starters for each team hit double figures in the Maryland game. I can’t remember when that has happened before.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good week:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis had a great week, with 20 points vs. Nebraska and 21 points vs. Maryland. He was the spark that pushed Michigan into the lead in the last 10 minutes of the Maryland game.
  • Jon Teske also had a very good week, with 22 and 11 points. Those 22 points are a new career high for Jon. He also had 10 rebounds in each game, for two double-doubles. Jon shot 3-pointers great in the Nebraska game (3-for-3) and terribly in the Maryland game (1-for-6). However, the one 3-pointer that he hit vs. Maryland was very timely (a dagger).
  • Isaiah Livers hit double figures in both games, with 12 and 11 points. He started both games in place of Charles Matthews. Isaiah also had 10 rebounds in the Nebraska game, for a double-double.
  • Zavier Simpson only hit double figures in one game this week, with 4 and 12 points, but he had 10 assists in each game, giving him a rare “points and assists” double-double in the Maryland game. He hit four or five of his amazing running hook shots in the Maryland game.
  • Jordan Poole also only hit double figures in one game this week, with 6 and 12 points.
  • Colin Castleton had a great game against Nebraska (11 points and 3 rebounds) and a quiet game against Maryland (2 points). Up until the Nebraska game, Colin had only scored 6 points all season, and hadn’t scored in 2019. He was great vs. Nebraska.

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

A: A few players had an “off” week:

  • Eli Brooks played in both games, and failed to score. After playing pretty well in the early games, Eli hasn’t done much in months, with a total of 10 points in 2019.
  • David DeJulius played in both games, and scored 2 points vs. Nebraska.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. played in the Nebraska game, and scored 2 points. He didn’t play in the Maryland game.

Q: Who else played this week?

A: Coach Beilein played everyone in the last minute of the Nebraska blow-out:

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan can beat a good Big Ten team on the road. Michigan hasn’t done very well recently against ranked opponents on the road, so the Maryland win was huge.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan only plays one game this week, and it’s HUGE. On Saturday (03/09/2019, 8:00 p.m., ESPN), they play at (#6) Michigan State. This is the last game of the regular season.

Yes, Michigan just played MSU last week (02/24/2019) in Crisler, and MSU won. Yes, it’s going to be a lot tougher to beat them in Breslin. It looks like Purdue is going to win the Big Ten title, so this game will be for 2nd place. Michigan has the talent to beat MSU, they just need to play their “A” game. It helps that Michigan has almost a week between games to prepare for this one.

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

Go Blue!