The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this past week, and they lost both of them. On Thursday (03/02/2023), they lost at Illinois 91-87 in double overtime, then on Sunday (03/05/2023), they lost at (#15) Indiana 75-73 in overtime. The two losses lower Michigan’s record to 17-14 (11-9 in Big Ten). They finished the regular season tied for 5th place in the Big Ten.
Michigan had a chance to win both of these games, but they just couldn’t get it done. They had nice leads late in both games, but they couldn’t hold them. They had a chance to finish in 2nd place in the Big Ten, but they couldn’t win a game. It was very frustrating.
The Illinois game was close the whole way. Michigan led for most of the 1st half, but only by 2-4 points. It was all tied it up (31-31) with 40 seconds left in the half, and Illinois led by 2 at halftime, 33-31. Illinois led for most of the 2nd half, keeping the lead in the 7-9 point range. Michigan fought back, and got the lead (57-56) at the 7:47 mark. Illinois went right back on top, and led by 4-6 points for most of the rest of regulation. With 2:35 to go in regulation, Illinois led by 7 points, 70-63. Michigan went on a 7-0 run to tie it up, 70-70, with 47 seconds to go. They got the stop they needed, and held the ball for the last shot. They missed it, and went to overtime.
The 1st overtime looked very promising. Michigan pulled out to a 7-point lead (81-74) with 1:49 to go, then they went cold. Illinois scored the last 7 points to tie it up (81-81) with 24 seconds left. Michigan had the ball for the last shot again, and they missed it again. On to overtime #2.
The 2nd overtime was miserable. Illinois went ahead right away, and never trailed. They led by as many as 5 points (88-83 with 3:07 to go), but Michigan managed to get within a point, 88-87, with 41 seconds left. Michigan was forced to foul, Illinois made their free throws, and that was the game. It was a real shame to lose the game after leading by 7 points with 1:49 to go in the first overtime.
The IU game was just as frustrating. After brief 3-0 and 4-2 leads by Michigan, IU led for almost all of the 1st half, by as many as 14 points. They were up 27-13 with 4:32 to go in the 1st half when Michigan went on a 14-2 run to end the half, down by only 2 points, 29-27. The 2nd half started out great, with Michigan finally getting a decent lead. They were up by 12 points (54-42) with 12:26 left in regulation when IU started coming back. IU finally got the lead back (66-65) with 2:49 to go in regulation, but Michigan went back ahead, 69-66, at the 1:15 mark. IU tied it up (69-69) with 59 seconds to go, and Michigan had the ball for the last shot, again, and they missed it, again. On to overtime, for the third game in a row.
The overtime period was miserable. Michigan never led, although they had several chances to tie it up or go ahead. They just couldn’t get the stops they needed on defense or make the shots they needed to on offense. It was another game that was a shame to lose.
The game stats for the Illinois game were decent. Michigan shot OK overall (31-for-70 = 44.3%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (8-for-21 = 38.1%), and they shot free throws acceptably (17-for-24 = 70.8%). They won the rebounding battle (46-45), but lost the turnover battle (12-7). They lost this game at the free throw line. Illinois drove to the basket on almost every possession, and they went to the free throw line a lot (34 attempts) and made most of them (26 made).
The game stats for the Indiana game were weak. Michigan shot poorly overall (26-for-63 = 41.3%), they shot 3-pointers decently (9-for-26 = 34.6%), and they shot free throws poorly (12-for-19 = 63.2%). They won the rebounding battle (45-36), but lost the turnover battle (13-8). They lost this game with turnovers and poor overall shooting.
The starters for both games were Kobe Bufkin, Hunter Dickinson, Jett Howard, Dug McDaniel, and Will Tschetter. 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?
Dickinson was the leading scorer for Michigan in both games, with 31 and 24 points. He also had 16 and 14 rebounds, for two more double-doubles. On top of all that, he had 3 and 5 blocked shots. He was amazing. He just wasn’t enough.
Bufkin also had a great week, with 23 and 19 points. The only downside? He had a miserable shooting day vs. IU: 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
Jett Howard hit double figures in both games, with 15 and 16 points.
McDaniel almost hit double figures in both games, with 9 and 10 points. He’s doing a great job running the offense, and he’s scoring a lot more than he did earlier in the season.
Tarris Reed, Jr. didn’t score very many points this week (3 and 2), but he played solid, rugged defense, taking some of the pressure off Dickinson. He also grabbed 6 and 9 rebounds.
Williams had a decent week, scoring 6 and 0 points.
Who Looked Not-So-Good?
Tschetter had a lousy week, scoring 0 and 2 points. He had 4 fouls in each game. He didn’t contribute much.
Joey Baker had a lousy week as well, with 0 points in each game. He shot 0-for-5 vs. Illinois and 0-for-1 vs. IU. He missed one of the “last shots” that could have won the Illinois game.
Who Else Played?
Jace Howard played in both games, but didn’t attempt a shot.
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?
It was all right there: Michigan just had to win one game this week to finish in 2nd place in the Big Ten and grab a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They had decent leads with not much time left in both games. They had the last shot either at the end of regulation or in overtime to win the game. They blew it every single time. Now, they are on the outside looking in. They probably blew their chance to get to the Big Dance. They still might snag an invitation if they have a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament, but they’re certainly looking like an NIT team.
This week, Michigan plays in the Big Ten Tournament, in Chicago. Even though Michigan finished the regular season tied for 5th place, they are the #8 seed in the tournament, due to the tiebreakers. As the #8 seed, they play the #9 seed (Rutgers) on Thursday (03/09/2023) at noon EST, televised on BTN. If they win that game, they are scheduled to play the #1 seed (Purdue) on Friday (03/10/2023) at noon EST, televised on BTN. If they can win that one, they play in the semifinals on Saturday (03/11/2023) at 1:00 p.m. EST, televised on CBS. If they make it to the championship game, it’s scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST on Sunday (03/12/2023), televised on CBS. Here’s the complete bracket.
Michigan played Rutgers once this season, back on 02/23/2023, on the road, and UM won handily, 58-45. They should be able to get by them on a neutral court. Michigan also only played Purdue once this season, on 01/26/2023 in Ann Arbor, and they almost beat them, losing 75-70. Purdue has stumbled often in the second half of the season, and they are beatable. Actually, Michigan has either beaten or almost beaten every team in the Big Ten this season, and they can beat any and all of them in the tournament. They can also lose to any of them, so it should be an interesting tournament.
Check back next week to find out what happened and why.