Nothing But ‘Net – Week #09 – 12/25/2017 – A Christmas Cupcake

Merry Christmas, if that’s what you’re into, otherwise, Happy Holidays.

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it. On Thursday (12/21/2017), they beat Alabama A&M 97-47 in Crisler Arena. The win raises Michigan’s record to 11-3 (1-1 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

Make no mistake: Alabama A&M is one of the worst teams in Division I basketball. They are now 0-12 on the season, and they stood no chance against Michigan. They were scheduled as an easy “guarantee” game right before Christmas, and that’s how it played out. Michigan led the whole way, but AAMU kept it close for the first few minutes. Once UM got the lead up over 10 points, the rout was on. Everyone got to play, and it was an easy, low-stress game.

Stats

The stats for the game are about what you would expect, except for free throw shooting. Michigan shot very well overall (36-for-60 = 60.0%), they shot 3-pointers very well (15-for-32 = 46.9%), but they were terrible from the free throw line again (10-for-18 = 55.6%). They won the rebounding battle (31-28), and they really won the turnover battle (12-25). Those are the kind of stats you’d expect in a blowout.

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Eli Brooks, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, and Jon Teske. Moritz Wagner was still out with a foot injury. He probably could have played, but he wasn’t needed, so he got more rest.

The undisputed star of the game was Matthews, with a career-high 31 points, on very efficient shooting: 12-for-15 overall, 2-for-5 shooting 3-pointers. He even shot free throws pretty well: 5-for-7.

Robinson has snapped out of his shooting slump, which is a big relief. He had 18 points, and also shot efficiently: 6-for-8 overall, 5-for-7 shooting 3-pointers.

The other starter in double figures was MAAR, with 14 points. He also shot very efficiently: 5-for-6 overall, 4-for-5 shooting 3-pointers.

Even though Teske only scored 7 points, he played well. He had 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, and he played solid defense. Michigan didn’t need him to score much in this one, which was fine.

Isaiah Livers had his best game so far. He almost hit double figures (9 points), and he was the leading rebounder (7). He hustled all over the floor, and he was very active on defense.

Austin Davis looked OK out there as the backup center. He still had too many fouls (3 fouls in 12 minutes), but at least he didn’t foul out of this game, after getting 5 fouls in 7 minutes in the UDM game last week. He scored 4 points, got 5 rebounds, and even had a blocked shot.

Jordan Poole did what he was supposed to do: he played hard and fast, and looked for his shot. Unfortunately, he didn’t hit many of his shots (1-for-3), and only scored 4 points.

Ibi Watson is another player who is supposed to generate “instant offense”. He scored 6 points on 2-for-5 shooting.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Brooks was the only starter who didn’t have a very good game. He had 0 points, but he did dish out 4 assists, with 0 turnovers.

After a few good games, Zavier Simpson had an off night. He also had 0 points, and a couple turnovers.

Jaaron Simmons played 8 minutes, and failed to score. He continues to slide down the bench.

Who Else Played

Other than Wagner, who was injured, everyone played.

C.J. Baird scored 2 points.

Brent Hibbitts didn’t score, but he had an assist.

Naji Ozeir scored 2 points.

Rico Ozuna-Harrison was just added to the team in the last week. He’s a 5’11”, 165 pound freshman guard, and he’ll be part of the scout team. He failed to score, but he did get a rebound.

Luke Wilson failed to score.

The Big Picture

We can’t learn much from a lopsided blowout of an inferior opponent, but at least Michigan took care of business, and didn’t “play down” to the competition.

Predicted Win Total

Michigan won a “Should Win” game, so the Predicted Win Total doesn’t change.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 18

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

5

11/27/2017

16

6

12/04/2017

16

7

12/11/2017

16

8

12/18/2017

18

9

12/25/2017

18

What’s Next

This week Michigan only plays one game. On Saturday (12/30/2017, 6:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Jacksonville in Crisler Arena.

Jacksonville is currently 4-10, and is a notch better than Alabama A&M, but still not a serious threat to Michigan. Their wins have all been against other weak teams, and they’ve lost a few to weak opponents.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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2017 Michigan Football Jim Harbaugh Early Signing Day Podcast, Powered by Milk

Coach Jim Harbaugh discusses the 16 players who are part of Michigan’s early signing day class, transfer QB Shea Patterson, and an early preview of the battle to be starting QB for the 2018 season.

Phil Callihan

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Nothing But ‘Net – Week #08 – 12/18/2017 – Winning Away From Crisler

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (12/12/2017), they won at Texas 59-52, then on Saturday (12/16/2017), they beat Detroit 90-58 in Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 10-3 (1-1 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

These two wins are a bigger deal than they would appear. The win at Texas was Michigan’s first true road win, after losing their first two road games (at North Carolina and at Ohio State). True, they have won away from Crisler Arena (in Maui), but this was their first win in a hostile environment. Now, Texas isn’t a Top-25 team, and they have some glaring flaws, but this was still very much a “toss up” game, and Michigan won it convincingly.

On the other hand, the win over UDM (University of Detroit-Mercy) was less of a surprise. Michigan is much better than UDM, and it showed. The challenge was to avoid “playing down to the competition”, and to avoid getting rattled by a hostile crowd at a not-really-neutral site. Michigan did both very well.

The Texas game started slowly. Really slowly. With 15:40 left in the 1st half, the score was 2-0, Texas. At that point, Michigan finally scored (a 3-pointer) to go up 3-2, and they never trailed again, but it was still slow: 12-6 with 8:26 left in the half. The last 8:26 were closer to a normal game, and Michigan led 32-20 at halftime. Texas had a good run (14-5) to start the 2nd half, and got within 3 points (37-34) with 14:11 left. UM promptly hit three 3-pointers in a row, to take the lead back up to 12 (46-34) with 12:02 to go. That was enough of a lead to last them the rest of the game. Texas got as close as 6 points (56-50), with 29 seconds left, but it was too little too late, and Michigan won by 7.

The UDM game was much easier. Michigan never trailed, and pulled away steadily from the opening tipoff. They got the lead up to 10 points (14-4) with 12:37 to go in the 1st half, up to 21 points (34-13) with 6:13 left, and up to 31 points (48-17) with 2:00 to go. They led by 35 (54-19) at halftime. They pushed the lead as high as 39 points in the 2nd half, and won by 32 points. It was an easy, dominating victory.

Stats

The statistics for the Texas game are pretty weak for an impressive road win. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (22-for-55 = 40.0%), they shot 3-pointers pretty poorly (6-for-19 = 31.6%), and they shot free throws decently (9-for-12 = 75.0%). They won the rebounding battle big time (40-31), and tied in the turnover battle (10-10). All those extra rebounds made the difference.

The statistics for the UDM game are not as impressive as you’d expect for a 32-point blowout. Michigan shot decently overall (34-for-72 = 47.2%), they shot 3-pointers well (11-for-23 = 47.8%), but they shot free throws pretty poorly (11-for-19 = 57.9%). They won the rebounding battle (44-37), and they really won the turnover battle (9-23).

Who Looked Good

The starters for the Texas gams were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Eli Brooks, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner. Wagner got hurt in the 2nd half of that game, so Jon Teske started in his place in the UDM game.

Among the starters, only two hit double figures in both games: Robinson had 10 and 11 points, and Matthews had 12 and 20 points. Robinson still isn’t hitting 3-pointers like he used to, but he did better this week: 1-for-3 and 3-for-4. Matthews had 8 and 7 rebounds to go with his points.

Wagner only started (and played) in one game, and he had 10 points when he got hurt.

Teske only started one game, and he had a career-high 15 points and 10 rebounds, for a double-double. He played in the Texas game, but failed to score. He did a fine job filling in for Wagner.

MAAR had a weird week. He was UM’s high scorer in the Texas game, with 17 points, and he also had 10 rebounds, for a double-double. Then he came back and only scored 2 points vs. UDM.

Two bench players hit double figures: Zavier Simpson and Jordan Poole, both against UDM. They both had 12 points. Coincidentally, they both had 4 points in the Texas game.

Ibi Watson played in both games. He failed to score in the Texas game, but he had 7 points vs. UDM. He’s not afraid to shoot when he’s in there.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Brooks was the only starter who didn’t have a very good week. He had 0 and 4 points, and may have fallen behind Simpson in the Point Guard Derby.

Isaiah Livers has had a rough couple of weeks. Once again, he didn’t score much (2 and 0 points), but he did play decent defense, and grabbed some rebounds (3 and 6).

Jaaron Simmons only played in the UDM game, and he only scored 3 points, all on free throws. He continues to slide down the bench.

Austin Davis didn’t play in the Texas game, but he was the backup center in the UDM game, with Wagner out. He scored 4 points in 7 minutes, and managed to foul out. It’s not easy to commit 5 fouls in 7 minutes, but he did it.

Who Else Played

Brent Hibbitts played in the UDM game, but failed to score.

Who Didn’t Play

The bench players (C.J. Baird, Naji Ozeir, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play in either game.

The Big Picture

These 2 wins were both very encouraging. The Texas win was encouraging because it was Michigan’s first true road win, and the UDM win was encouraging because Michigan beat an inferior opponent soundly, instead of “playing down to the competition”.

Predicted Win Total

Finally: a reason to increment the Predicted Win Total. Michigan now has 10 wins, with 2 more fairly certain wins left on the non-conference schedule (see below). They should resume Big Ten play in January with a record of 12-3, so my previous Predicted Win Total (16) seems a bit pessimistic. Looking at the Big Ten schedule at this point, here’s how it breaks down:

  • Should Win (4) – Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers, Penn State.
  • Should Lose (4) – Michigan State, Purdue (away), Wisconsin (away), Maryland (away).
  • Toss Up (8) – Iowa (both), Purdue (home), Maryland (home), Northwestern (both), Minnesota, Ohio State (home).

So, if Michigan can split the “toss up” games, that would give them a league record of 9-9.  Since they’re already 1-1, that means 8-8, which added to 12-3, works out to 20-11.  I still think that’s too high, but 16 was too low.  Let’s split the difference.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 18

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

5

11/27/2017

16

6

12/04/2017

16

7

12/11/2017

16

8

12/18/2017

18

What’s Next

This week Michigan only plays one game. On Thursday (12/21/2017, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU), Michigan plays Alabama A&M in Crisler Arena.

Alabama A&M is currently 0-11, and is easily the worst team that Michigan will play this season. They have lost to some pathetic competition, and stand no chance vs. Michigan. This game was scheduled to give UM an easy game after finals and before the Christmas break.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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Michigan Football Commentary– Changes POWERED BY MISSISSIPPI TEARS

Phil and Andy talk about Michigan’s status as the #1 destination for QB transfers, changes on the Wolverine coaching staff, and whether Mo Hurst is obligated to play in the bowl game.

Phil Callihan

Editor-in-Chief, UMGoBlue.COM Publisher, UMGoBlog.COM, UMGoVideo.COM, UMGoPodcast,COMFollow on twitter UMGOBLOG

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Nothing But ‘Net – Week #07 – 12/11/2017 – A Tale Of Two Collapses

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they lost one and won one. On Monday (12/04/2017), they lost at Ohio State 71-62, then on Saturday (12/09/2017), they beat UCLA 78-69 (overtime) in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 8-3 (1-1 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

Both games featured big collapses, one bad and one good. In the OSU game, Michigan was cruising along with a 20-point lead (43-23) with 1:31 left in the 1st half, when they collapsed. They allowed a 7-0 OSU run to end the half, then allowed a 19-3 OSU run to start the 2nd half. Even though Michigan eventually managed to end the run, and even got a small lead again, the collapse gave OSU the momentum, and OSU ended the game with an 11-2 run. It was very depressing.

On the other hand, the UCLA collapse was great fun to watch. UCLA led by 15 points (46-31) with 14:48 left, when they collapsed. Michigan went on a 22-10 run to pull within 3 points (56-53) with 5:12 to go, and they tied the game up with 10.9 left. UM finally started hitting 3-pointers in overtime, and led for the whole overtime period. It was an important win. If Michigan had lost that game, the whole season was in danger of going down the drain.

Stats

The statistics for the OSU game are pretty ugly. Michigan shot poorly overall (22-for-59 = 37.3%), they shot 3-pointers poorly (8-for-28 = 28.6%), but they did shoot free throws decently (10-for-14 = 71.4%). They lost the rebounding battle (35-32), but they won the turnover battle (8-10). When UM shoots 3-pointers poorly, they usually lose.

The statistics for the UCLA game are better than the OSU game, but still not very good. Michigan shot decently overall (30-for-64 = 46.9%), they shot 3-pointers decently (10-for-29 = 34.5%), but they shot free throws terribly (8-for-22 = 36.4%). They got thrashed on the boards (41-30), but they won the turnover battle big-time (11-20). Michigan could have won this game in regulation with even mediocre free-throw shooting. They were lucky to force overtime. Fortunately, they played their best basketball in the overtime period.

Who Looked Good

The starters for both games were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Eli Brooks, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner.

Of the 5 starters, only one hit double figures in both games: Wagner had 14 and 23 points. He almost had a double-double vs. OSU (9 rebounds).

The only other player to hit double figures in both games was very surprising: Zavier Simpson had 11 and 15 points. After scoring 3 points or less in almost every other game this season (he did have 13 points vs. Central Michigan way back in early November), he exploded in back to back games. He had several huge baskets vs. UCLA, including a couple crucial 3-pointers.

Two other starters hit double figures in one game this week: MAAR (11 and 8 points), and Matthews (4 and 20 points). MAAR also hit two timely 3-pointers vs. UCLA, but the real sparkplug in the UCLA game was Matthews. He had a quiet 1st half (4 points), but took over the game when UCLA got up by 15 points. He had a personal 8-1 run, to get UM back in the game. He could have been even better, but his free-throw shooting abandoned him: he was 2-for-10 at the line. When he started driving to the basket vs. UCLA, the game turned.

Even though he didn’t hit double figures in either game, Brooks had a good week, with 8 and 7 points. However, if Simpson keeps playing like he did this week, Brooks could lose his starting job. It’s nice to have a competition where both players are playing very well, rather than a choice between two struggling players.

Once again, Jon Teske managed to have a good week without scoring many points (3 and 2 points). He does a better job at defending against strong centers than Wagner, and he’s a better rebounder than Wagner. He isn’t the offensive threat that Wagner is, but he can “hold the fort” while Wagner is resting, or in foul trouble.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

The biggest problem Michigan has right now is named Duncan Robinson. Their offense is built around his 3-point shooting, and he is stone cold from deep: 1-for-5 vs. OSU, and 0-for-5 vs. UCLA. These have not been highly contested shots either; many of them have been of the “wide open” variety. He just can’t shake this slump, and it’s killing the offense. I’ve said it many times: when the 3-pointers are falling, Michigan looks great. Everything else falls into place. When the 3-pointers are missing, everything else seems to go wrong. Michigan relies on the 3-point shot more than just about any other team, and they rely on Duncan Robinson more than any other player.

After a few big games, Jordan Poole has cooled down (5 and 1 points). He was 0-for-3 from 3-point range in each game this week.

Isaiah Livers didn’t have a bad week, but it was a step back from where he’s been the previous few weeks. He played in both games this week, but he failed to score. He did have 3 and 7 rebounds, and he played some good defense.

Jaaron Simmons played briefly in both games, but failed to score. He’s falling further and further behind Brooks and Simpson.

Ibi Watson hit a 3-pointer vs. OSU, but didn’t play in the UCLA game. He’s in danger of falling off the end of the bench.

Who Else Played

No one else played. The bench is shortening up as the games are getting tougher.

Who Didn’t Play

Austin Davis is falling off the end of the bench. He didn’t play in either game.

The bench players (C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir, and Luke Wilson) didn’t play in either game.

The Big Picture

The OSU loss was one of the more depressing losses in recent memory, except for the NJIT game a few years ago. Sure, it’s tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, but a 20-point lead near halftime should be a lot harder to throw away. The UCLA game could have been a season-ending disaster, but Michigan clawed their way back into the game, overcoming some horrendous free-throw shooting. Still, the results this week don’t exactly inspire great confidence.

Predicted Win Total

Both games this week were of the “toss up” variety, and splitting them is reasonable. This doesn’t do anything to change my feelings about the Predicted Win Total.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 16

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

5

11/27/2017

16

6

12/04/2017

16

7

12/11/2017

16

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games, both away from Crisler Arena. On Tuesday (12/12/2017, 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2), Michigan plays at Texas, then on Saturday (12/16/2017, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU), Michigan plays Detroit in Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Texas is currently 6-2, with a win over a common opponent (VCU) and 2 understandable losses to ranked teams. It’s going to be a tough game, especially on the road.

The game vs. Detroit is the first half of a college basketball doubleheader. The other game is Michigan State vs. Oakland. The doubleheader is being billed as the Hitachi College Basketball Showcase. These are the first college basketball games to be played in the new arena.

Detroit is currently 4-6, with no impressive wins and several embarrassing losses (Wayne State [exhibition], Seattle, Fort Wayne, Toledo, and Western Michigan). They have also played a common opponent (UCLA), and they got thumped (106-73). They have given up 111, 102, 109, 91, 106, 89, and 87 points in their last few games. Michigan should win this one, but it may not be easy. Even though the game is being played on a neutral court, it will feel like an away game, with a large anti-Michigan crowd there for the 2nd game.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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