Nothing But ‘Net – Week #13 – 01/24/2022 – Two Impressive Wins, And Mid-Term Grades

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this past week, and they won both of them.  On Tuesday (01/18/2022), they beat Maryland 83-64 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/23/2022), they won at Indiana 80-62.  The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 9-7 (3-3 in Big Ten).

What Happened?

Michigan really needed a win going into the Maryland game, and they got it, comfortably.  They led from start to finish, built a solid lead, and held off every Maryland rally.  Michigan scored in the first 14 seconds off the opening tip, Maryland tied it 2-2, then Michigan hit a 3-pointer to go ahead for good.  They pushed the lead up to double figures (20-9) with 10:59 left in the half, then pushed it up over 20 (35-14) with 3:14 to go.  The lead was 20 points (39-19) at halftime, and Michigan kept it in the 18-22 point range for most of the 2nd half.  At one point, Maryland crept within 13 points (57-44) with 11:12 left in the game, but Michigan pushed the lead back up to 19 points (63-44) with 9:03 to go, and that was the last gasp for Maryland.  Coach Howard put in the subs for the last 3:00, and they did a fine job protecting the lead.

The win at IU was the most impressive win of the season so far for Michigan.  IU was coming off an exciting home victory over (#4) Purdue, and they were undefeated at home.  They were fired up, and the game was broadcast nationally on CBS.  It didn’t look promising for Michigan, but they played their best game of the season, and won convincingly.  Michigan trailed 2-0 and 4-2, then they went ahead 6-4 with 16:27 left, and never trailed again.  They quickly pushed the lead up to 9 points (14-5) at the 14:38 mark, then up to 16 points (29-13) with 7:16 to go in the half.  They let IU whittle the lead down to 8 points (38-30) at halftime, but they pushed it back into double figures (44-34) at the 18:23 mark, and kept it in the 10-12 point range for the rest of the game.  IU got within 9 points once (52-43) with 14:14 to go, but that was as close as they got, and Michigan pulled away in the final two minutes to win by 18 points.

Stats

The stats for the Maryland game are very nice.  Michigan shot well overall (35-for-60 = 58.3%), they shot well from 3-point range (8-for-20 = 40.0%), and they were perfect shooting free throws (5-for-5 = 100.0%).  They won the rebounding battle handily (32-20), and they won the turnover battle (8-13).  They won this game with solid overall and 3-point shooting.

The stats for the IU game are wonderful.  Michigan shot very well overall (29-for-51 = 56.9%), they shot fabulously from 3-point range (11-for-17 = 64.7%), and they shot free throws well enough (11-for-14 = 78.6%).  They crushed IU on the boards (36-26), but they did lose the turnover battle (14-8).  They won this game with great overall and 3-point shooting.

Who Started?

The starters for both games were Eli Brooks, Moussa Diabate, Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan, and DeVante’ Jones.

Who Looked Good?

Dickinson was the star of both games, with 21 points vs. Maryland and 25 points vs. IU.  He not only scored a lot of points, but he did it with great shooting: 10-for-14 overall (1-for-2 from deep) vs. Maryland, and 9-for-12 (3-for-4 from deep) vs. IU.  These are his two best games of the season so far.

Houstan had the two best games of the season so far as well.  He scored 16 points vs. Maryland and 19 points vs. IU.  He also shot well: 6-for-7 overall (3-for-4 from deep) vs. Maryland, and 7-for-12 (5-for-7 from deep) vs. IU.

Diabate also hit double figures in both games, with 14 and 10 points.

Jones almost scored in double figures in both games, with 12 and 7 points.  He had 7 assists against 3 turnovers vs. IU.

Terrance Williams II had one good game (10 points vs. IU) and one sad game (0 points vs. Maryland).  He shot 4-for-5 (2-for-2 from deep) vs. IU.

Brandon Johns, Jr. returned to the lineup in the IU game after missing 3 games due to COVID-19 issues, and he looked good.  He scored 5 points, shooting 2-for-2 overall (1-for-1 from deep).

Frankie Collins also had a decent week, with 6 and 2 points.  He’s getting better every game at running the point.

Jace Howard had a nice week, with his best game of the season vs. Maryland (5 points, including a nice 3-pointer), and a minute of mop-up action vs. IU (no shot attempts).

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

What’s up with Brooks?  He had a mediocre game vs. Maryland (7 points), and a lousy game vs. IU (2 points).  He’s supposed to be a senior leader at shooting guard.

Kobe Bufkin had a tough week, with 0 points in both games.

Who Else Played?

Jaron Faulds played in both games, scoring 2 and 0 points.

Who Didn’t Play?

Isaiah Barnes, Zeb Jackson, Adrien Nuñez, and Will Tschetter are the scholarship players who didn’t play.

Ian Burns and Brandon Wade are the scout team players who didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

These are two big wins.  Sure, Maryland is having a down season, but they came back and beat Illinois handily in the game after they lost big to Michigan.  IU is having a good season, and beating them in Bloomington is a big deal.

Is Michigan back “on the bubble” for the NCAA Tournament?  Maybe, but they still have a lot of work to do.  Was this week just a fluke, or have they turned the corner?  We’ll see in the next few games.  If they can string together 2 or 3 good weeks, then we can start thinking about post-season play.

Mid-Term Grades

With 16 games down, and at least 13 left to go (depending on rescheduling postponed games), it’s time for (near) mid-term grades.

Freshman Eligibility

  • Isaiah Barnes (Inc.) – Isaiah is being voluntarily redshirted, so he has only played in 2 games, and hasn’t attempted a shot.
  • Kobe Bufkin (C+) – Kobe has played in 13 games so far, and scored 51 points.  He’s looked good in a few games (Prairie View A&M, Southern Utah, and Central Florida) and like a freshman in the rest.  He missed one game due to COVID-19 issues.
  • Ian Burns (Inc.) – Ian is on the scout team, and has only played 1 minute in 1 game so far, and he hasn’t attempted a shot.
  • Frankie Collins (C+) – Frankie has played in 13 games so far, and scored 46 points.  He’s looked good in a few games (Tarleton State, San Diego State, and Maryland) and like a freshman in the rest.  He missed one game due to COVID-19 issues.
  • Moussa Diabate (B) – Moussa has played in 15 games (started 9) and scored 137 points.  He has also grabbed 92 rebounds and blocked 11 shots.  He is very athletic, and brings lots of energy to the team when he’s out there.  He also fouls too much.
  • Caleb Houstan (B+) – Caleb has started all 16 games this season and scored 164 points.  He has had several very good games, and a few very bad games.  Even when he has a good game, he’s too quiet out there.  He needs to show some emotion to get the rest of the team fired up.
  • Will Tschetter (Inc.) – Will is being voluntarily redshirted, and he hasn’t played this season.

Sophomore Eligibility

  • Hunter Dickinson (A-) – Hunter’s stats are actually up from last season, but it doesn’t feel like it.  Last season, he played with fire and intensity.  This season, he often has a blank look on his face, and he appears disinterested.  One aspect of his game is definitely better this season: 3-point shooting.  Last season, he was 0-for-4.  This season, he’s 9-for-23 (39.1%).  He missed one game due to COVID-19 issues.
  • Jace Howard (C-) – Jace has played more than expected this season: 7 games, for 42 minutes, scoring 11 points.  He even hit a 3-pointer.
  • Zeb Jackson (C-) – Zeb has only played in 4 games, for 35 minutes, and has scored 13 points.  Is he still on the team?  I’m not sure.  He has stayed in Ann Arbor for the last few away games, for “personal” (non-injury, non-COVID-19) reasons.
  • Terrance Williams II (C) – Terrance has played more than expected this season: 15 games (started 1), for 80 points.  He’s had a couple great games (Buffalo, Nebraska, and Indiana) and a bunch of forgettable games.  He missed one game due to COVID-19 issues.

Junior Eligibility

  • Brandon Wade (Inc.) – Brandon is on the scout team, and hasn’t appeared in a game yet this season.

Senior Eligibility

  • Eli Brooks (B) – Eli is another player who isn’t playing as well as he did last season.  He has started every game, and scored 184 points.  He started the season well, hitting double figures in the first 10 games, but since then he has been up-and-down.  His 3-point shooting percentage is respectable (25-for-69 = 36.2%), but it’s really tailed off in the last few games.
  • Jaron Faulds (C) – Jaron has played more than expected, in some cases due to COVID-19 absences.  He has played in 8 games, for 36 minutes, and has scored 12 points.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. (C-) – Brandon has been somewhat of a disappointment this season.  As a senior with some starting experience, a lot was expected from him, and he hasn’t delivered.  In fact, after starting the first 6 games, he lost his starting role to Diabate.  He has played in 13 games, and scored 67 points.  He has had one good game (Nebraska) and a bunch of forgettable games.  He missed 3 games due to COVID-19 issues.
  • DeVante’ Jones (B) – DeVante’ has started every game this season, and has been the main point guard.  He started the season slowly, but has been improving lately.  As a point guard, we need to look at his assist/turnover ratio (62/30), which is respectable.  His 3-point shooting has been improving, and he’s now up to 43.8% (14-for-32).
  • Adrien Nuñez (Inc.) – Adrien has played more than usual this season: 6 games, 26 minutes, 8 points.  For someone who was recruited as a 3-point specialist, his numbers are lousy: 1-for-6.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan is scheduled to play two games.  On Wednesday (01/26/2022, 6:30 p.m., BTN) they are scheduled to play Northwestern in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (01/29/2022, 12:30 p.m., CBS) they are scheduled to play at (#14) Michigan State.

Northwestern is currently 9-8 (2-6 in Big Ten), with impressive wins over Georgia and (#10) Michigan State, and not-so-impressive losses to Providence, Penn State, and Maryland.  They have a couple noteworthy players (Boo Buie and Pete Nance) and some height (two 6’10” guys and a 7-footer).  This will be a challenging game, since Northwestern was good enough to beat MSU in East Lansing.

Michigan State is currently 15-3 (6-1 in Big Ten).  They have impressive wins over Louisville (ACC/Big Ten Challenge) and (#8) Wisconsin, and 2 of their 3 losses are against (#3) Kansas and (#6) Baylor, with a puzzling loss at home to Northwestern thrown in.  They have several noteworthy players (Max Christie, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall, and Gabe Brown), and they have some height (a 7-footer at center).  Michigan could get blown out in this one, but they have the talent to hang around and maybe pull off a miracle, they just need to play one of their rare “A” games.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #12 – 01/17/2022 – More COVID-19 And A Moral Victory

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team was supposed to play two games this past week, but they only played one, and lost it.  On Tuesday (01/11/2022), they were supposed to play (#3) Purdue in Crisler Arena, but it was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the UM program, then on Friday (01/14/2022), they lost at Illinois 68-53.  The loss lowers Michigan’s record to 7-7 (1-3 in Big Ten).

What Happened?

The postponement of the Purdue game was not too surprising, after Michigan had to postpone their previous game, against Michigan State.  Even though Michigan had enough scholarship players to play the Illinois game, they were missing two key players, which made for some crazy lineups and unusual minutes for rarely-used players.

Wait a minute, I thought that Michigan fans didn’t believe in moral victories.  Well, maybe in a good season, but this isn’t a good season.  Even though the Illinois game ended up being a 15-point loss, it was much closer than that for most of the game, with Illinois pulling away in the last couple minutes.  Looking at the lineups that Michigan was forced to cobble together, and the huge size advantage that Illinois had, this game should have been a blowout from the opening tip, with Illinois leading by 30 and 40 points early in the 2nd half.  That’s not the way it went.  Michigan played gritty, solid defense for the first 35 minutes, and it was only their anemic offense that kept them from pulling ahead and possibly sneaking out a victory.

The game was close for most of the 1st half, although Michigan never led.  The score was tied 4 times (2-2, 4-4, 6-6, and 10-10) before Illinois pulled away for good.  The Illini pushed the lead up to the 7-9 point range for a while, but Michigan fought back, and were within 2 points (24-22) with 1:54 left in the 1st half.  Illinois scored another basket, to make it 26-22 at halftime.  Illinois widened their lead in the 2nd half, going up by 8-10 points for most of the half, but never pulling away.  Once again, Michigan fought back, pulling to within 1 point (45-44) with 7:27 left.  They even had the ball, with a chance to go ahead for the first time, but they missed a layup, and that was the ball game.  Illinois quickly pushed the lead back into double digits, and won by 15.

Stats

The game stats are horrible.  Michigan shot terribly overall (22-for-60 = 36.7%), they shot miserably from 3-point range (1-for-10 = 10.0%), and they shot free throws poorly (8-for-14 = 57.1%).  They lost the rebounding battle (33-32), but won the turnover battle (12-13).  They lost the game due to their horrible overall and 3-point shooting.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Moussa Diabate, Caleb Houstan, and DeVante’ Jones, and Terrance Williams IIHunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns, Jr. were out with COVID-19 complications, so Diabate started at center, and Williams started at power forward.  It was not an optimal lineup against an Illinois lineup with Kofi Cockburn and several other big, strong players.

Who Looked Good?

Jones was the only Michigan player to hit double figures, with 17 points.  He also hit Michigan’s only made 3-pointer.

Diabate gave it a good effort, scoring 9 points, but he only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble.  He was no match on either end against Cockburn, giving up 45 pounds.  When he was out, Michigan was really at a height disadvantage.

Kobe Bufkin had a solid game off the bench, with 6 points on 3-for-5 shooting.

Frankie Collins also had a solid game off the bench, with 5 points on 2-for-3 shooting.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Brooks had a lousy game, with 7 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Houstan also had a lousy game, with 5 points on 2-for-9 shooting.

Williams also had a lousy game, with 2 points in 31 minutes of “action”.

Who Else Played?

Jace Howard scored 2 points in 15 minutes.

Jaron Faulds scored 0 points in 12 minutes.  With Dickinson and Johns out, and Diabate in foul trouble, Faulds had to try to contain Cockburn for 12 minutes.  He did his best, but that’s a big ask.

Who Didn’t Play?

Isaiah Barnes, Zeb Jackson, Brandon Johns, Jr., Adrien Nuñez, and Will Tschetter are the scholarship players who didn’t play.  Jackson stayed in Ann Arbor, for “personal” (non-COVID-19) reasons, but the rest of them were on the bench.  At this point, it’s obvious that Barnes and Tschetter are being voluntarily redshirted, and Johns was still recovering from COVID-19.  I’m surprised Nuñez didn’t get a few minutes.

Ian Burns and Brandon Wade are the scout team players who didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

It was encouraging to see Michigan fight back repeatedly against Illinois, and to hang with them for most of the game, especially with the makeshift lineups they were forced to use.  If they can get this kind of effort against some of the lower division teams in the Big Ten, they might actually win another couple games.  Getting the whole team back from COVID-19 would really help.  Hitting some open 3-pointers would also help.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan is scheduled to play two games.  On Tuesday (01/18/2022, 7:00 p.m., ESPN2) they are scheduled to play Maryland in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/23/2022, 12:00 p.m., CBS) they are scheduled to play at Indiana.

Maryland is currently 9-8 (1-5 in Big Ten).  Their only impressive win was over (#20) Florida, and they have unimpressive losses to George Mason and Rutgers.  They have a couple noteworthy players (Eric Ayala and Donta Scott) and decent height (a 6’10” guy and a 6’11” guy).  This is one of the few games that Michigan stands a chance of winning, but they’ll have to play their “A” game.

Indiana is currently 12-4 (3-3 in Big Ten).  They have impressive wins over Notre Dame and (#12) Ohio State, and less-than-impressive losses to Syracuse, Penn State, and Iowa.  They have a few noteworthy players (Rob Phinisee, Miller Kopp, Tracye Jackson-Davis, and Race Thompson), and they have a 7-foot center.  This will be a very challenging game for Michigan, especially on the road.  UM has a lousy record in Assembly Hall, and this season’s team is not exactly firing on all cylinders.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #11 – 01/10/2022 – More COVID-19 Issues

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team was supposed to play two games this past week, but they only played one, and lost it.  On Tuesday (01/04/2022), they lost at Rutgers 75-67, while the game scheduled for Saturday (01/08/2022) at home vs. Michigan State was postponed, due to COVID-19 issues in the UM program.  The loss lowers Michigan’s record to 7-6 (1-2 in Big Ten).

What Happened?

The postponement of the MSU game was the most obvious COVID-19 issue, but COVID-19 also played a big factor in the Rutgers loss.  Five UM players missed the Rutgers game, four of them due to COVID-19.  While none of the missing players were starters, several were key bench players, and UM gave unusual minutes to a couple rarely-used players in their absence.

Before the loss this week, Michigan was a perfect 14-0 vs. Rutgers.  That streak ended with a thud.  Rutgers watched the video of the Michigan/UCF game from last week, and saw that all they had to do was make three 3-pointers in a row against Michigan and the game would be over.  UCF waited until midway through the 2nd half to hit their three-in-a-row, but Rutgers hit theirs right out of the gate.  They hit their first three 3-point attempts, along with a layup and a free throw, and the score was suddenly 12-4 with 16:00 to go.  That was all the lead they needed, winning by 8 points.  In between, Michigan never led, and spent most of the game behind by 10-12 points.  It was a miserable, depressing performance.

Stats

The game stats are sad.  Michigan shot decently overall (27-for-59 = 45.8%), but they shot terribly from 3-point range (3-for-15 = 20.0%).  They shot free throws well enough (10-for-13 = 76.9%), but they lost the rebounding battle (37-32) and won the turnover battle (8-10).  Once again, they lost the game due to their bad 3-point shooting and above-average 3-point shooting by Rutgers (11-for-23 = 47.8%).  They seem to be doing everything right in defending 3-point shots, but their opponents just have their best 3-point shooting performances vs. Michigan.  It’s very frustrating.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Moussa Diabate, Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan, and DeVante’ Jones.

Who Looked Good?

Just like the UCF game, 4 of the 5 starters scored in double figures, led by Dickinson (25), Diabate (15), Houstan (12), and Brooks (11).  Dickinson in particular did his part, shooting 10-for-16 overall.  Diabate also played hard, shooting 6-for-9 overall and grabbing 9 rebounds.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Jones had a terrible game, scoring 0 points.  He shot 0-for-3 from the floor in 31 minutes of “action”.

Kobe Bufkin also had a lousy game, with 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting (0-for-2 from 3-point range) in 15 minutes of playing time.

Who Else Played?

Jace Howard scored 2 points in 9 minutes.

Adrien Nuñez didn’t attempt a shot in 4 minutes.

Who Didn’t Play?

Isaiah Barnes, Frankie Collins, Zeb Jackson, Brandon Johns, Jr., Will Tschetter, and Terrance Williams II are the scholarship players who didn’t play.  Collins, Johns, and Williams didn’t travel with the team, due to COVID-19 issues.  Jackson also stayed in Ann Arbor, for “personal” (non-COVID-19) reasons.

Ian Burns, Jaron Faulds, and Brandon Wade are the scout team players who didn’t play.  Faulds didn’t travel with the team, due to COVID-19 issues.

What Does It Mean?

Losing the Rutgers game is a disaster.  If Michigan can’t beat Rutgers, there are few possible wins left on the schedule.  They could realistically lose the rest of the games on the schedule, although they might sneak out 2-3 more wins.  Regardless, they are almost certainly going to miss the NCAA (and NIT) Tournament this season.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan was supposed to play two games, but one of them has already been postponed.  On Tuesday (01/11/2022) they were scheduled to play (#3) Purdue in Crisler Arena, but that game has been postponed due to continuing COVID-19 issues in the UM program.  On Friday (01/14/2022, 9:00 p.m. EST, FS1) they are scheduled to play at Illinois.

Illinois is currently 11-3 (4-0 in Big Ten).  They have solid wins against Kansas State, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, and Maryland, and puzzling losses to Marquette and Cincinnati (by 20 points).  They have several noteworthy players: Trent Frazier, Alfonso Plummer, and (especially) Kofi Cockburn.  I think Cockburn is the most powerful basketball player I’ve ever seen in person, and I’m afraid he’s going to crush Dickinson.  Illinois thrashed Michigan in their only game last season, and they’re still upset that Michigan won the Big Ten title over them by winning percentage, not total wins.  They’ll be out for blood, playing at home in front of a wild and delusional crowd, and Michigan is hurting, both physically and mentally.  This game could be a bloodbath.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #10 – 01/03/2022 – Unhappy New Year

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this past week, and they lost it.  On Thursday (12/30/2021), they lost at Central Florida (UCF) 85-71.  The loss lowers Michigan’s record to 7-5 (1-1 in Big Ten).

What Happened?

Between the UCF basketball game and the Orange Bowl football game, in was a lousy week in Florida for Michigan athletics.

Michigan should have won the UCF game, but once the momentum started swinging the wrong way, it was over.  Michigan led for all but the first few seconds of the 1st half, with a 3-5 point lead.  They led by 4 points (35-31) at halftime, and they quickly stretched that lead to 12 points (44-32) with 17:34 left in the game.  The lead was still 12 points (49-37) with 16:01 to go, when the roof fell in.  UCF went on a dizzying 13-0 run in less than 3 minutes, and led 50-49 at the 13:12 mark.  In that stretch, UCF made back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by a dunk-steal-dunk.  UM was completely frazzled, their confidence was shot, and the momentum was lost.  They got the lead back one last time, 51-50, and that was it.  UCF pulled ahead, and never trailed again.  UM got as close as 2 points (64-62) with 7:26 left, but UCF pushed their lead up to 10 points, and never looked back.  It was a humiliating loss to a non-Power 5 team, even if it was on the road.

Stats

The game stats are weird.  Michigan shot better from 3-point range (11-for-27 = 40.7%) than overall (25-for-63 = 39.7%), and they shot free throws pretty well (10-for-13 = 76.9%).  They won the rebounding battle (37-32), but lost the turnover battle (9-6).  The difference was that UCF was on fire from 3-point range: 12-for-20 (60.0%), including 8-for-8 in the 2nd half.  That flurry of three 3-pointers in 67 seconds in the 2nd half just broke Michigan’s will.

Who Started?

The starters were Eli Brooks, Moussa Diabate, Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan, and DeVante’ Jones.

Who Looked Good?

4 of the 5 starters scored in double figures, led by Brooks (18), Jones (17), Diabate (13), and Dickinson (12).  Jones in particular did his part, shooting 6-for-10 overall and 4-for-5 from deep.  Dickinson almost had another double-double with 9 rebounds.

Kobe Bufkin also had a good game, with 8 points on 2-for-4 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range).

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Houstan had a terrible game, scoring 1 point.  He shot 0-for-7 from the floor (0-for-4 from deep) in 24 minutes of “action”.

Frankie Collins had a lousy game, with 0 points in 6 minutes.

Brandon Johns, Jr. had a lousy game, with 0 points in 9 minutes.

Terrance Williams II had a lousy game, with 2 points in 14 minutes.

Who Else Played?

No one else played.

Who Didn’t Play?

Isaiah Barnes, Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, Adrien Nuñez, and Will Tschetter are the scholarship players who didn’t play.

Ian Burns, Jaron Faulds, and Brandon Wade are the scout team players who didn’t play.

What Does It Mean?

Losing this game is a disaster.  At this point, Michigan looks like they will finish below 0.500 for the season, and miss out on the NCAA Tournament.  They may get their act together, but they don’t have much margin for error left.

If you’re following Michigan basketball for the wins, this isn’t the season for you.  If you’re following them to see them play, they might still surprise you with some unexpected wins, but be ready for a lot more dreary losses.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games, resuming the Big Ten schedule.  On Tuesday (01/04/2022, 7:00 p.m., BTN) they play at Rutgers, then on Saturday (01/08/2022, 2:30 p.m., FOX) they play (#10) Michigan State in Crisler Arena.

Rutgers is currently 7-5 (1-1 in Big Ten), the same record as Michigan.  They have solid wins over Clemson (ACC/Big Ten Challenge) and (#1) Purdue.  They have unimpressive losses to DePaul, Lafayette, and Massachusetts. They have a couple noteworthy players (Geo Baker and Ron Harper, Jr.) and some height (one 6’10” player, and two 6’11” players).  This will be a tough game, especially on the road.  Michigan has never lost to Rutgers, but this could be the season.

MSU is currently 12-2 (3-0 in Big Ten).  Their only impressive win is over Louisville (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), and their 2 losses are against (#3) Kansas and (#6) Baylor.  They have several noteworthy players (Max Christie, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall, and Gabe Brown), and they have some height (a 7-footer at center).  Michigan will probably get blown out in this one, but they have the talent to hang around and maybe pull off a miracle, they just need to play one of their rare “A” games.

An important note: UM is now requiring proof-of-vaccination to attend indoor athletic events, as of 01/01/2022.  That should make the home basketball game on Saturday interesting.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #09 – 12/27/2021 – COVID-19 Strikes Again

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team was supposed to play one game this past week, but it was canceled due to COVID-19 issues on the other team.  On Tuesday (12/21/2021), they were supposed to play Purdue-Fort Wayne in Crisler Arena.  The game will not be made up.  Michigan’s record remains at 7-4 (1-1 in Big Ten).

What Does It Mean?

This was a game that Michigan was expected to win, so it’s a shame they won’t get to play it.

Michigan’s resume for the Big Dance is slightly damaged by this cancellation, since every win counts, even against a lower-division opponent.  UM is still “on the bubble” for the NCAA Tournament.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan only plays one game.  On Thursday (12/30/2021, 7:00 p.m., ESPN2) they play at Central Florida (UCF).  This is a rare away non-conference game.  Michigan usually plays all their non-conference games at home, using “buy” (or “guarantee”) games, except for holiday tournaments and the Gavitt (Big East/Big Ten Challenge) and ACC/Big Ten Challenge games.  This season, Michigan played a rare away exhibition game vs. Wayne State, a rare neutral court non-conference game (Washington D.C.) vs. Prairie View A&M, and now a rare away non-conference game at UCF.  It’s been a strange non-conference schedule.

Central Florida is currently 8-2 (1-0 in the AAC).  They have solid wins against Miami (FL) and Temple, and reasonable losses to Oklahoma and (#21) Auburn.  They don’t have any noteworthy players, but they do have some height: a 6’10” forward and a 6’11” center.  This will be a challenging game for Michigan, especially in a hostile arena.

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

Go Blue!