Nothing But ‘Net – Week #09 – 01/18/2021 – A Tale Of Two Blowouts

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won one and lost the other.  On Tuesday (01/12/2021), they beat (#9) Wisconsin 77-54 in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (01/16/2021), they lost at (#23) Minnesota 75-57.  Michigan’s record is now 11-1 (6-1 in the Big Ten).  Michigan is now tied for 1st place in the Big Ten standings with Iowa.

What Happened?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  The Wisconsin game was the best game Michigan has played this season, and the Minnesota game was the worst.  Everything went right in the Wisconsin game, and everything went wrong in the Minnesota game.  While the first loss of the season is always tough to process, I don’t want to skip over the big win over Wisconsin too quickly.  If Michigan can get back to the form they showed in that game, they will be able to win the tough games on the road against ranked opponents.

The Wisconsin game was close early, with Wisconsin actually leading once (5-4 with 17:42 left in the 1st half), and a tie score (15-15) with 12:13 to go.  That’s when Michigan went out ahead for good.  The score was still close (26-23) with 6:19 to go, and then Michigan went on a 14-0 run to end the half, up 40-23.  Wisconsin scored the first 3 points of the 2nd half, to make it 40-26 with 19:42 left in the game.  They didn’t score again for over 7 minutes, as Michigan went on another big run, 22-0, to put the game away.  At that point, the score was 62-29, and Michigan pushed the lead as high as 40 points (69-29) with 10:43 to go.  Wisconsin managed to make the score look more respectable, mostly against the Michigan scrubs, but it was a dominant victory.

As good as Michigan looked against Wisconsin, that’s how bad they looked against Minnesota.  Michigan never led, and the closest they got to challenging Minnesota was within 3 points (24-21) with 2:32 to go in the 1st half.  They let Minnesota go on a 6-2 run to end the half, and never really challenged Minnesota in the 2nd half.  The lead grew as high as 23 points, before ending up at 18 points.  It was very disappointing.

Stats

The stats for the Wisconsin game are excellent.  Michigan shot well overall (32-for-62 = 51.6%), they shot 3-pointers very well (9-for-16 = 56.3%), and they were perfect from the line (4-for-4 = 100.0%).  They won the rebounding battle handily (42-34), and won the turnover battle (8-10).  Michigan won this game with 3-point shooting.

The stats for the Minnesota game are terrible.  Michigan shot poorly overall (22-for-56 = 39.3%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (6-for-22 = 27.3%), and they shot free throws horribly (7-for-14 = 50.0%).  They actually won the rebounding battle (39-35), but they lost the turnover battle miserably (20-9).  They lost this game with poor shooting and turnovers.

Who Started?

The starters for the Wisconsin game were Eli Brooks, Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, Mike Smith, and Franz WagnerChaundee Brown, Jr. started in place of Brooks in the Minnesota game, since Brooks had a minor foot injury.

Who Looked Good?

Most of the starters looked good in the Wisconsin game, but almost no one looked good in the Minnesota game.

It was back-to-Earth time for Dickinson.  He had a good game against Wisconsin (12 points, 6 rebounds, 0 turnovers), but he was badly outplayed by the Minnesota center (Liam Robbins, with 22 points), with only 9 points and 5 turnovers.  This ended Dickinson’s streak of double figures in the first 11 games.

Livers was the only player to hit double figures in both games, with 13 against Wisconsin and 11 against Minnesota.

Wagner had a good game vs. Wisconsin (15 points) and a mediocre game vs. Minnesota (8 points).  He shot well against Wisconsin (7-for-10 overall, 1-for-2 from deep), but poorly against Minnesota (3-for-9 overall, 0-for-4 from deep).

Brown had a decent game vs. Wisconsin (7 points) and a good game vs. Minnesota (14 points).  He was the leading scorer in the Minnesota game.

Austin Davis returned to action after missing 6 games due to a foot injury.  He looked fine out there, scoring 4 points vs. Wisconsin and 6 points vs. Minnesota.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Smith was the leading scorer in the Wisconsin game (16 points), but he was horrible in the Minnesota game (0 points on 0-for-6 shooting).

Brooks had a lousy game vs. Wisconsin (5 points), and didn’t play in the Minnesota game.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had a lousy week, with 3 points vs. Wisconsin and 0 points vs. Minnesota.  His points in the Wisconsin game were from a 3-pointer.

Terrance Williams II played in both games, with 0 points vs. Wisconsin and 3 points vs. Minnesota.

Who Else Played?

The 3 scholarship players who aren’t part of the main rotation (Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, and Adrien Nuñez) all played at the end of both games:

  • Howard had 0 points vs. Wisconsin, but hit his first career 3-pointer vs. Minnesota.
  • Jackson hit a basket vs. Wisconsin and a free throw vs. Minnesota.
  • Nuñez didn’t shoot in either game.

A couple players from the scout team (C.J. Baird and Jaron Faulds) played at the end of one of the games:

  • Baird didn’t play in the Wisconsin game, but hit 2 free throws in the Minnesota game.
  • Faulds played in the Wisconsin game, but didn’t shoot.  He didn’t play in the Minnesota game.

Who Didn’t Play?

The rest of the scout team players (Rico Ozuna-Harrison, Brandon Wade, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play in either game.

What Does It Mean?

The win was a big win, and the loss was just one loss.  It was very unlikely that Michigan was going to go undefeated for the season, and now that the win streak is over, they can truly settle down to “one game at a time”.  They’re in the heart of a good title chase, and they’ve shown that they can play well and beat good teams.  They’ve also seen what can happen if they don’t play well.  Until they beat a ranked team on the road, we’re going to have to hold our breath for those games.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one at home and one on the road.   On Tuesday (01/19/2021, 7:00 p.m., FS1), they play at home vs. Maryland, then on Friday (01/22/2021, 7:00 p.m., FS1), they play at Purdue.

Maryland is currently 8-6 (2-5 in Big Ten).  Michigan played them in College Park back on New Year’s Eve (12/31/2020) and beat them 84-73.  Since then, they have lost to Indiana and (#5) Iowa, and beaten (#12) Illinois.  If Michigan can beat them at their place, they should be able to handle them at home, but we shall see if Michigan’s first loss has any effect.

Purdue is currently 10-5 (5-3 in Big Ten).  They have impressive wins over (#20) Ohio State, (#23) Michigan State, and Indiana, and not-so-impressive losses to Miami (FL), (#14) Rutgers, and (#15) Illinois.  They have an All Big Ten-caliber player (Trevion Williams) and the tallest player in the Big Ten (Zach Edey, 7’4”).  This will be a big challenge for Michigan, especially on the road.  Michigan has not done well in Mackey Arena in the past.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #08 – 01/11/2021 – A Big Win And A Postponement

The (#10) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it.  On Wednesday (01/01/2021), they beat (#16) Minnesota 82-57 in Crisler Arena.  Michigan’s record is now 10-0 (5-0 in the Big Ten).  Michigan is still all alone in 1st place in the Big Ten standings.

What Happened?

Hey, wait a minute: I thought Michigan was supposed to play two games this week; what happened?  A postponement happened.  Michigan was supposed to play at Penn State on Saturday (01/09/2021), but PSU has COVID-19 issues, and they’ve postponed 4 games so far, with 1 more postponed in the future.  The game will be rescheduled.

The game that Michigan did play was a gem.  Minnesota came in as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, with wins over Iowa and Michigan State.  The game was close for the entire first half, with Michigan ahead, but not by much.  Michigan led by 6 at halftime, 32-26, but they opened up the 2nd half with a 17-4 run to push the lead up to 19 points (49-30), and that was the game.  Minnesota never got closer than 17 points, and Michigan pushed the lead as high as 37 points, before they emptied the bench.  The final margin of “only” 25 points isn’t indicative of the difference between the teams.  It could have been 45 points.

Stats

The stats for the Minnesota game are very nice.  Michigan shot very well overall (33-for-58 = 56.9%), they shot 3-pointers decently (4-for-13 = 30.8%), and they shot free throws well (12-for-15 = 80.0%).  They won the rebounding battle (40-31), but they lost the turnover battle (13-12).  They won this game with overall shooting.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, Mike Smith, and Franz Wagner.

Who Looked Good?

Once again, Dickinson is the man.  He was the leading scorer, with 28 points, another new career high.  He shot 12-for-15, and had a team-high 8 rebounds.  He was awesome.

Livers had a good game, with 14 points and 7 rebounds.  His only downside was 3-point shooting: 1-for-5.

Wagner also had a good game, with 12 points and 5 rebounds.

Smith didn’t hit double figures (7 points), but he did have 6 assists, and he played great defense on one of the better point guards in the league, Marcus Carr.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had a nice game, with 7 points and 4 rebounds.

Chaundee Brown, Jr. chipped in 5 points.

I’m not sure what to say about Brooks.  On the one hand, he only scored 2 points, and he only played 21 minutes before he left the game with a gruesome injury: he had a tooth knocked out in an accidental collision with the elbow of a Minnesota player.  On the other hand, he did have 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. 

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

All the mainstream players looked pretty good in this game.

Who Else Played?

Terrance Williams II played 7 minutes, and hit a pair of free throws.

The 3 scholarship players who aren’t part of the main rotation (Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, and Adrien Nuñez) all played at the end of the game.  Howard scored another point, with a free throw, and Jackson and Nuñez both made a basket.

One player from the scout team (Jaron Faulds) played at the end of the game.  He didn’t score.

Who Didn’t Play?

Austin Davis is still out with his foot injury.

The rest of the scout team players (C.J. Baird, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, Brandon Wade, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play in this game.

What Does It Mean?

The good news is: Michigan is the only undefeated team in the Big Ten, they’re 4-0 in league play, and they’re all alone in 1st place in the league standings.  They’re one of four undefeated teams left in the nation.

The bad news is: Michigan has a tough stretch of schedule coming up, starting this week.  Maybe it’s not bad news, maybe it’s an opportunity to knock off some of the other good teams in the Big Ten.

At this point, Michigan is playing as well as they did last season in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, when they knocked off two Top-10 teams in two days.  We shall see if they can keep it up.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one at home and one on the road.   On Tuesday (01/12/2021, 7:00 p.m., ESPN), they play at home vs. (#8) Wisconsin, then on Saturday (01/16/2021, 2:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2), they play at (#16) Minnesota.

Wisconsin is currently 10-2 (4-1 in Big Ten).  They beat (#23) Louisville in non-conference play, and so far have beaten (#12) Michigan State and (#21) Minnesota, and lost to Maryland.  They have a couple star players on their roster, and a lot of height (two 7-footers and a 6’11” guy).  This will be Michigan’s toughest game so far.

Didn’t we just play Minnesota last week?  Yup, and we’re playing them again this week.  The Big Ten comes up with some wild schedules.  Anyway, Minnesota is currently 10-4 (3-4 in Big Ten).  Since they lost to Michigan (82-57), they have also lost to (#5) Iowa (86-71).  Michigan matched up very well against Minnesota last game, and they should be able to handle them again, but it’s tough to win on the road.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #07 – 01/04/2021 – Happy New Year

The (#16) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won both of them.  On Thursday (12/31/2020), they beat Maryland 84-73 in College Park, MD, then on Sunday (01/03/2021), they beat (#19) Northwestern 85-66 in Crisler Arena.  Michigan’s record is now 9-0 (4-0 in the Big Ten).  Michigan is all alone in 1st place in the Big Ten standings.

What Happened?

Yes, Michigan played a game in College Park, MD on New Year’s Eve.  At least they won, and they looked good doing it, so it was a Happy New Year.  Michigan led for the entire 1st half, by as many as 10 points, but they just couldn’t shake Maryland.  Maryland had the best half of 3-point shooting I have ever seen.  They shot 9-for-11, which kept them in the game.  Michigan had led by 7 points (44-37) with 2:55 left in the half, but Maryland closed the half on a 7-2 run, to pull within 2 points at halftime, 46-44.  Maryland hit another 3-pointer to start the 2nd half, and they had their first lead, 47-46, with 18:31 to go.  They pushed their lead up to 4 points (54-50) with 15:04 left, before Michigan got going, pulled ahead, and never trailed again.  Michigan got the lead as high as 19 points (82-63) with 3:52 left, and coasted to an 11-point win.  It was Michigan’s best game of the season, to that point.

As good as the Maryland game was, the NW game was even better.  It didn’t start out well, with NW scoring the first 6 points, but once Michigan got going, they pulled into the lead and never looked back.   NW was up 8-2 with 16:28 left in the 1st half, when UM ripped off 7 straight points to go up 9-8, with 14:57 to go.  NW made a basket to get the lead back for the last time, 10-9, at the 14:36 mark, and then it was all Michigan.  They went ahead, and pushed the lead up to 10 points (26-16) with 8:30 to go in the half.  NW snuck back to within 5 points (34-29) with 2:56 left, but Michigan made back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead back up to 14 points at halftime, 43-29.  NW started the 2nd half with a 5-2 run, to get within 11 points (45-34), but that was as close as they got.  Michigan pushed the lead up into the 20s, and flirted with 30.  The scrubs came in for the last 4 minutes, and the final margin of victory was “only” 19 points, but it could have been 40.

Keep in mind that this is the same Northwestern team that dominated Michigan State a couple weeks ago, beating them by 25 points in East Lansing.

Stats

The stats for the Maryland game are very nice.  Michigan shot very well overall (30-for-51 = 58.8%), they shot 3-pointers decently (6-for-19 = 31.6%), and they shot free throws very well (18-for-20 = 90.0%).  They won the rebounding battle (29-23), and tied the turnover battle (12-12).  They won this game with overall shooting.

The stats for the NW game are also very nice.  Michigan shot pretty well overall (32-for-64 = 50.0%), they shot 3-pointers very well (12-for-27 = 44.4%), and they shot free throws well enough (9-for-14 = 64.3%).  They crushed NW on the boards (42-28), but they lost the turnover battle (12-10).  Michigan won this game with 3-point shooting and rebounding.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, Mike Smith, and Franz Wagner.

Who Looked Good?

Dickinson is the man.  He was the leading scorer in both games, with a new career-high 26 points vs. Maryland, and 19 points vs. NW.  He also had 11 rebounds in the Maryland game, for another double-double.  Even more impressive, he shot 10-for-11 in the Maryland game, and 8-for-12 in the NW game.  He was awesome.

Welcome back, Herr Wagner.  After a slow start in the first 6 games, he has come alive in the last 3.  He had double figures in both games, with 19 points vs. Maryland, and 14 points vs. NW.  He also had 10 rebounds vs. NW, for his first double-double of the season.  On top of that, he had 5 assists, 5 blocked shots (career high), and 2 steals vs. NW.  He did it all.

Brooks had a very good week, with double figures in both games.  He had 10 points vs. Maryland, and 14 vs. NW.  He had a tough time with his 3-point shot vs. Maryland (0-for-4), but made up for it vs. NW (4-for-5).

Smith had one good game (14 points vs. Maryland), and one so-so game (5 points vs. NW).  He did have 6 assists in each game, and he ran the offense well.

Livers also had one good game (10 points vs. NW), and one so-so game (7 points vs. Maryland).

Chaundee Brown, Jr. had one very good game (14 points vs. NW), and one lousy game (0 points vs. Maryland).  When he’s on his game, he’s a great spark off the bench.

Brandon Johns, Jr. didn’t score a lot of points this week (6 vs. Maryland, 5 vs. NW), but he did a nice job giving Dickinson a rest.  He also hit a nice 3-pointer vs. NW.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Terrance Williams II didn’t play vs. Maryland, and didn’t score vs. NW.

Who Else Played?

The 3 scholarship players who aren’t part of the main rotation (Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, and Adrien Nuñez) all played at the end of the NW game.  Howard scored his first Michigan points, with a basket, and Jackson made his first Michigan basket.  Nuñez missed his only shot.

A couple of the scout team players (C.J. Baird and Jaron Faulds) played at the end of the NW game.  They shot a few times, but didn’t score.

Who Didn’t Play?

Austin Davis is still out with his foot injury.

The rest of the scout team players (Rico Ozuna-Harrison, Brandon Wade, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play this week.

What Does It Mean?

The good news is: Michigan is the only undefeated team in the Big Ten, they’re 4-0 in league play, and they’re all alone in 1st place in the league standings.  They’re one of four undefeated teams left in the nation.

The bad news is: Michigan has a tough stretch of schedule coming up, starting this week.  Maybe it’s not bad news, maybe it’s an opportunity to knock off some of the other good teams in the Big Ten.

At this point, Michigan is playing as well as they did last season in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, when they knocked off two Top-10 teams in two days.  We shall see if they can keep it up.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one at home and one on the road.   On Wednesday (01/06/2021, 8:30 p.m., BTN), they play at home vs. (#21) Minnesota, then on Saturday (01/09/2021, 2:15 p.m., BTN), they play at Penn State.

Minnesota is currently 10-2 (3-2 in Big Ten).  They beat (#4) Iowa, (#17) Michigan State, and (#25) Ohio State at home, but they lost to (#13) Illinois and (#6) Wisconsin on the road.  They don’t have any superstars on their roster, but they do have a seven-footer.  This will be another tough game, given who Minnesota has already beaten.

Penn State is currently 3-4 (0-3 in Big Ten).  Michigan already played, and beat, PSU earlier this season (12/13/2020) in Crisler Arena.  PSU also lost to (#18) Illinois and Indiana since their game against Michigan.  Michigan matched up well against PSU last time, but it’s always tough to win on the road in the Big Ten.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #06 – 12/28/2020 – Merry Christmas

The (#19) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it.  On Friday (12/25/2020), they beat Nebraska 80-69 in Lincoln, NE.  Michigan’s record is now 7-0 (2-0 in the Big Ten).

What Happened?

Yes, Michigan played a game in Lincoln, NE on Christmas Day.  At least they won, and they looked good doing it, so it was a Merry Christmas.  The whole 1st half was close, with neither team getting more than 4 points ahead.  Nebraska led for most of the half, but Michigan managed to eke out a 2-point lead at halftime, 36-34.  Michigan opened the 2nd half with a quick 7-1 run to take an 8 point lead (43-35) with 18:36 left.  That was all the lead that Michigan needed.  Michigan never trailed in the 2nd half, and pushed the lead as high as 13 points, winning by 11.

Stats

The stats for the Nebraska game are pretty good.  Michigan shot well overall (30-for-59 = 50.8%), they shot 3-pointers decently (9-for-27 = 33.3%), and they shot free throws pretty well (11-for-14 = 78.6%).  They won the rebounding battle handily (43-31), but they lost the turnover battle badly (15-8).  Michigan won this game with overall shooting.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers, Mike Smith, and Franz Wagner.

Who Looked Good?

Wagner had his best game of the season, with 20 points and 9 rebounds.  This is NOT his ceiling, but it is a step in the right direction.  He still hasn’t found his 3-point shot (2-for-7).

Livers had a good game, scoring 17 points.  He also had a mediocre day shooting 3-pointers (3-for-8).

Dickinson continued his strong play, with another double-double: 13 points and 15 rebounds.  The 15 rebounds are a new career high for him.  I understand that 7 games is a short career.

Smith was the 4th starter in double figures, with 10 points.  He also had a team-high 6 assists.

Chaundee Brown, Jr. came off the bench and hit double figures, with 13 points.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Brooks was the only starter who didn’t hit double figures, with 7 points.  He did have 4 assists.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had another quiet game, with 0 points.  He subbed in for Dickinson, but he just isn’t doing much as a “small ball 5”.  In 6 minutes, he didn’t attempt a shot or grab a rebound.

Terrance Williams II also had another quiet game, also scoring 0 points.  He did attempt some shots (0-for-3), and he did grab 1 rebound.

Who Else Played?

Nobody else played.

Who Didn’t Play?

Austin Davis is still out with his foot injury.

The 3 scholarship players who aren’t part of the main rotation (Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, and Adrien Nuñez) didn’t play this week.

The scout team players (C.J. Baird, Jaron Faulds, Rico Ozuna-Harrison, Brandon Wade, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play this week.  Note that Wade is now eligible to play.

What Does It Mean?

The good news is: Michigan is the last undefeated team in the Big Ten, they’re 2-0 in league play, and they’re half a game out of 1st place in the league standings.  They’re 7-0 for the 2nd year in a row.

The bad news is: Michigan hasn’t played any of the contenders yet.  In fact, Michigan has 4 more Big Ten games before they play a currently-ranked opponent (Wisconsin), although Northwestern is likely to be in the Top-25 when Michigan plays them (see below).

So, we don’t really know how good this Michigan team is yet.  They’ve looked good in most of their games, but the level of competition will go up very soon.       

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, one on the road and one at home.   On Thursday (12/31/2020, 7:00 p.m., ESPN2), they play at Maryland, then on Sunday (01/03/2021, 7:30 p.m., BTN), they play at home vs. Northwestern.  Yes, after playing on Christmas Day in beautiful Lincoln, NE, they get to play on New Year’s Eve in glamorous College Park, MD.

Maryland is currently 5-3 (0-2 in Big Ten).  They haven’t beaten anyone noteworthy, and they have lost to Clemson, (#19) Rutgers, and Purdue.  They don’t have any superstars on their roster, but they do have a 7’2” center.  This will be a tough game, especially on the road.

Northwestern is currently 6-1 (3-0 in Big Ten).  They have beaten (#4) Michigan State, Indiana, and (#23) Ohio State.  Their only loss is to Pittsburgh.  Actually, they didn’t just beat MSU, they crushed them.  They have 3 highly-regarded players on their roster (Boo Buie, Miller Kopp, and Pete Nance), and they have decent height: two 6’10” guys and a 7-footer.  This will be Michigan’s toughest game so far.  Ask MSU, Indiana, and OSU if Northwestern can play this season.

Go Blue!