Nothing But ‘Net – Week #06 – 12/04/2017 – A Predictable Loss And An Encouraging Win

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they lost one and won one. On Wednesday (11/29/2017), they lost at (#13) North Carolina 86-71, then on Saturday (12/02/2017), they beat Indiana 69-55 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 7-2 (1-0 in the Big Ten).

What Happened

It’s not too surprising that Michigan lost at North Carolina. UNC is the defending national champs, and they were playing at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge after getting crushed by (gulp) Michigan State in the PK80 Invitational. They were out for blood, and eager to prove that they were still a national contender. They proved it. The game was fast and furious in the first 8 minutes, and the score was tied 29-29. UM made their first 8 shots, including four 3-pointers, and it looked like Michigan was going to be able to keep up with UNC. That’s when the roof fell in: UNC went on a 16-3 run, and suddenly it was 45-32, with 3:27 left in the half. Michigan got within 10 points a few times before halftime, but UNC pushed the lead back up to 14 points (51-37) at halftime. UNC put the game away in the first 7 minutes of the 2nd half with a 17-2 run, which pushed their lead up to 29 points (68-39). The rest of the game was academic. Michigan got to play a lot of their younger players in extended action, and UNC scored enough points to always keep the game out of reach. The final margin of victory is deceptive: Michigan deserved to lose by more than 15 points. It was no contest.

Michigan really needed a fast start against IU, and they got it. They hit 3 of their first 4 3-point attempts, and held IU without a field goal for the first 7:32 of the game. With 12:30 left in the 1st half, it was 16-2. Even though IU finally started scoring, UM kept the lead in the 13-15 point range for the rest of the half, and led by 13 at the break, 34-21. Things were still looking good (38-26) with 16:48 left in the game, when IU went on its only significant run. Over the next 2 minutes, IU outscored UM 8-1 to cut the lead down to 5 points (39-34) with 14:51 to go. Michigan responded nicely, with a quick 8-0 run to push the lead back up to 13 points (47-34) with 13:35 left. Michigan kept the lead in double digits the rest of the way, except for a brief 9-point lead (54-45) with 7:56 to go. UM quickly pushed the lead back up to 16 points, and kept it in the 14-16 point range the rest of the way, finally winning by 14 points. It was a solid, convincing win.

By the way: Why is UM playing a Big Ten game in early December? Greed in the Big Ten offices. They wanted this year’s Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden, and MSG was only available a week earlier than the usual time for the Big Ten Tournament, so the Big Ten decided to squeeze in all the games a week faster than usual, which means 2 games in early December, and no bye weeks. Thanks, Big Ten!

Stats

The statistics for the UNC game are not pretty. Michigan shot poorly overall (28-for-66 = 42.4%), they shot 3-pointers poorly (10-for-34 = 29.4%), and they shot free throws poorly (5-for-11 = 45.5%). They got out-rebounded (37-31), but they did win the turnover battle (10-12). When UM isn’t hitting their 3-pointers, they can look pretty weak.

The statistics for the IU game aren’t as impressive as you’d expect. Michigan shot decently overall (26-for-55 = 47.3%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (11-for-31 = 35.5%), but they shot free throws pretty poorly (6-for-10 = 60.0%). They did win the rebounding battle (34-32) and the turnover battle (10-11). Those don’t look like the stats for a 14-point win.

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 20 and 13 points. He almost had a double-double vs. UNC (9 rebounds).

Jordan Poole was the undisputed star of the IU game. He was the leading scorer (19 points), including 5-for-10 shooting from 3-point range. He only had 4 points in the UNC game, but he was a force vs. IU.

The only other starter to hit double figures in at least one game was Matthews, with 12 and 8 points. He had quick foul trouble in the 1st half of the IU game, and only played 19 minutes.

MAAR didn’t hit double figures in either of the games (2 and 8 points), but he did have 11 rebounds vs. IU.

Brooks didn’t score many points this week (4 and 5 points), but he did have 6 assists (and no turnovers) vs. IU.

Jon Teske also didn’t score many points this week (2 and 6 points), but he did a very good job backing up Wagner. He played good defense, grabbed a few rebounds, and played with poise and confidence again.

Isaiah Livers is looking more confident out there every game. He scored some points (9 and 4), he played some decent defense, and grabbed a few rebounds.

Ibi Watson scored 7 points vs. UNC, and 0 points vs. IU.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Zavier Simpson didn’t do much when he was in. He scored 3 points vs. UNC, and 0 points vs. IU.

Jaaron Simmons is also struggling. He scored 3 points vs. UNC, and didn’t play vs. IU.

Who Else Played

Austin Davis played in the UNC game, but failed to score. He didn’t play vs. IU.

Brent Hibbitts scored 2 points vs. UNC, but didn’t play in the IU game.

Who Didn’t Play

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

The Big Picture

There was a low probability that Michigan was going to win at UNC, so that loss isn’t very concerning. The convincing win vs. IU was encouraging. Now that we’re into a cluster of competitive games, it was good to see Michigan play a solid 40-minute game.

Predicted Win Total

The loss to UNC was in the “Should Lose” category, and the win over IU was in the “Toss Up” category, and neither does 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

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games, and they’re two more tough ones. On Monday (12/04/2017, 6:30 p.m., FS1), Michigan plays at Ohio State, then on Saturday (12/09/2017, 12:00 p.m., CBS), UM plays UCLA in Crisler Arena.

The preseason predictions for OSU were: 14th place in the Big Ten, behind even Rutgers, but OSU has started out much better than that. They’re currently 6-3 (1-0 in the Big Ten), with no embarrassing losses, and a surprising 25-point win over Wisconsin in Madison. This game will be a lot tougher than it looked a month ago.

UCLA is ranked just outside the Top-25, with a 6-1 record. Their only loss was to Creighton (another bottom-of-the-Top-25 team) on a neutral floor. They also beat Wisconsin, by 2 points, on the same neutral floor. This will be another tough game.

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

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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Nothing But ‘Net – Week #05 – 11/27/2017 – The Maui Invitational And More

Quick Look

Remember last week’s article, where I said that Michigan was going to play three games last week? Well, it was wrong: the University of Michigan men’s basketball team played four games last week, not three. They played three games in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, then they played a fourth game at home when they got back from Hawaii. I completely missed that the fourth game was in the same week as the Maui Invitational. Oops.

Another oops: I said that Hawaii Standard Time was 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Well, HST is actually 5 hours behind (not ahead of) EST. I got that all messed up.

So, what happened with those four games? Michigan won three and lost one. On Monday (11/20/2017), they lost to LSU 77-75, on Tuesday (11/21/2017), they beat Chaminade 102-64, on Wednesday (11/22/2017), they beat VCU 68-60, and on Sunday (11/26/2017), they beat UC Riverside 87-42. The first three games were in Lahaina (HI), and the fourth game was in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 6-1.

What Happened

Michigan really should have won the Maui Invitational opener against LSU. They were the better team, but they let LSU hang around, and LSU won it in the last 90 seconds. The 1st half was all LSU. LSU never trailed in the 1st half, and led by as many as 7 points. Michigan tied the game at 2-2 early, 29-29 late, and finished the half down only 2 points (31-29). Michigan tied the game again early in the 2nd half, 33-33, before LSU pulled ahead again. LSU got the lead up to 7 points again (49-42) with 12:15 to go. Michigan went on a nice 13-4 run to take their first lead (55-53) with 8:52 left, and pushed the lead up as high as 9 points (68-59) with 5:11 to go. LSU went on a 15-6 run to tie the game up (74-74) with 1:33 left, and they outplayed Michigan down the stretch. It was a sad game to lose.

The good news about losing to LSU was that they got to play the only weak team in the field, the host team: Division 2 Chaminade. Michigan got out to an early lead, and never took their foot off the gas. They led by 19 points at halftime (44-25), and got the lead as high as 41 points. It was no contest. Interestingly, Chaminade came back on Wednesday and beat up on a Division 1 team (California) in the 7th place/8th place game, 96-72.

With a loss and a win, Michigan played in the “consolation bracket championship” game, also known as the 5th/6th place game, against VCU. The 1st half was a seesaw battle, with Michigan playing strong in the last 2:30 to take a 6-point lead, 36-30, at halftime. They started the 2nd half strong as well, and pushed the lead up to 11 points (43-32) with 17:11 to go. Michigan still led by 10 points (46-36) with 15:05 left, when VCU started chipping away. VCU went on a 17-3 run to take a 4 point lead (53-49) with 8:11 left. During that run, Michigan went for almost 5 minutes without scoring a point. They were stuck on 49 points forever. It looked like Michigan was doomed. The momentum was all wrong. But, Michigan didn’t give up. The teams traded the lead until the 1:48 mark, when it was tied 60-60. Michigan played great basketball down the stretch, and closed the game on an 11-0 run to win it.

The UCR game was everything that the first 3 “guarantee” games weren’t: it was fun and easy. Michigan dominated from start to finish, and was never threatened. Everyone got to play, and there were plenty of highlights. The game flow is unimportant. Michigan opened a quick 7-2 lead, and never trailed. The lead was 24 points at halftime (41-17), and got as high as 50 points (85-35) late in the game, before the final 45-point win.

Stats

The statistics for the LSU game are not very impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (27-for-59 = 45.8%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (6-for-23 = 26.1%), and they shot free throws decently (15-for-21 = 71.4%). Michigan got out-rebounded (31-29), but they did win the turnover battle (14-8). Poor 3-point shooting is what cost them the game. When they hit their 3-pointers, the rest of the game falls into place. When they miss them, they look terrible.

The statistics for the Chaminade game are much better. Michigan shot very well overall (37-for-57 = 64.9%), they shot 3-pointers very well (15-for-28 = 53.6%), and they shot free throws decently again (13-for-18 = 72.2%). They (barely) won the rebounding battle (33-32), and they won the turnover battle (13-8).

The statistics for the VCU game are surprisingly bad. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (25-for-53 = 47.2%), they shot 3-pointers terribly (5-for-20 = 25.0%), and they shot free throws terribly (13-for-22 = 59.1%). They tied in the rebounding battle (34-34) and the turnover battle (10-10). They won because they shot more 3-pointers and free throws than VCU.

Finally, the statistics for the UCR game are decent, but not as impressive as the huge margin of victory would suggest. Michigan shot pretty well overall (34-for-63 = 54.0%), they shot 3-pointers well (13-for-28 = 46.4%), but they shot free throws pretty poorly (6-for-11 = 54.5%). They crushed UCR on the boards (44-32), and they won the turnover battle (11-15).

Who Looked Good

The starters for the LSU game were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. Eli Brooks looked a little better in the LSU game, so he started in place of Simpson for the next three games.

Matthews was the undisputed star of the first two games (LSU and Chaminade) and he played well in the other two games. He scored 28, 22, 11, and 17 points this week. He also had 2 double-doubles: 22 points and 10 rebounds vs. Chaminade, and 17 points and 12 assists vs. UCR. 12 assists is very impressive, especially for a non-point guard.

When Matthews wasn’t the star, Wagner was. He scored 24, 10, 12, and 21 points. He also had a double-double in the UCR game: 21 points and 10 rebounds. He even shot 3-pointers well this week: 3-for-7, 1-for-2, 1-for-3, and 4-for-5, which adds up to 9-for-17.

MAAR hit double figures in 3 of the 4 games: 12, 17, 10, and 2 points. Fortunately, his only quiet game was against UCR, which was a 45-point blowout, so his scoring wasn’t needed.

Robinson also hit double figures in 3 of the 4 games: 3, 14, 18, and 13 points. Unfortunately, his only quiet game was against LSU, when Michigan needed every point they could get.

Brooks didn’t score many points this week (4, 5, 5, and 8 points), but he did the best job of the 3 point guards at running the offense and playing defense. The battle for the point guard position isn’t over yet, but Brooks is the clear favorite at this point.

Jon Teske also didn’t score many points this week (0, 6, 8, and 0 points), but he did a very good job backing up Wagner. He played good defense, grabbed a few rebounds, and played with poise and confidence.

Jordan Poole finally got some playing time, and looked pretty good. He hit double figures twice this week (0, 10, 0, and 11 points), and he showed a nice touch from 3-point range (2-for-3 vs. Chaminade and 3-for-6 vs. UCR).

Isaiah Livers is looking more confident out there every game. He didn’t have a big week scoring (2, 8, 0, and 6 points), but he played some decent defense and grabbed a few rebounds.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Simpson had a miserable game vs. LSU, picking up 4 fouls in 10 minutes, and scoring 0 points on 0 shots. That cost him his starting role, and he didn’t do much to try to get it back: 2, 2, and 0 points in the next 3 games.

Speaking of point guards, Jaaron Simmons is also struggling. He took a grand total of 4 shots last week, and missed them all.

Ibi Watson is looking more comfortable and confident out there with each passing game, but he isn’t producing: 2, 2, 2, and 4 points. He’s a shooter, and he needs to start shooting and making some shots.

Who Else Played

C.J. Baird played the last 4 minutes vs. UCR. He didn’t attempt a shot.

Austin Davis played in 2 games (Chaminade and UCR) and scored 4 points vs. Chaminade and grabbed 4 rebounds vs. UCR.

Brent Hibbitts played in 2 games (Chaminade and UCR) and scored 2 and 5 points.

Naji Ozeir played the last 4 minutes vs. UCR, and missed his only shot attempt.

Luke Wilson played the last 4 minutes vs. UCR, and missed his only free throw attempt.

Who Didn’t Play

Everyone got to play in at least one game, since all 16 players played in the UCR game.

The Big Picture

On the one hand, it would have been nice if Michigan had beaten LSU in the first game of the Maui Invitational. That way, they would have been in the winner’s bracket, and could have finished no worse than 4th. On the other hand, if they had beaten LSU, they would have faced a very tough Notre Dame team in the 2nd round, which probably would have resulted in a loss. The 3rd/4th place game vs. Marquette would have been a “toss up”, so they still could have gone 2-1 in the tournament. The only difference is that the win vs. Chaminade doesn’t help UM at all if they’re a “bubble” team for the NCAA Tournament.

The win over UCR was very encouraging, especially after the unimpressive early wins in the first 3 “guarantee” games (North Florida, CMU, and Southern Mississippi). Unfortunately, there are only 2 “guarantee” games left (Alabama A&M and Jacksonville), and the rest of the schedule is much tougher.

Predicted Win Total

While the win over VCU in a “toss up” game was encouraging, it didn’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

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games, and they’re both big, tough ones. On Wednesday (11/29/2017, 7:30 p.m., ESPN), Michigan plays at (#9) North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, then on Saturday (12/02/2017, 12:30 p.m., CBS), UM plays Indiana in Crisler Arena.

North Carolina is the defending national champs, and it would be a major upset if Michigan beat them on their home floor.

Indiana is currently 4-2, with no impressive wins and one embarrassing loss (90-69 to Indiana State in Bloomington). Their other loss was to (#22) Seton Hall, which is understandable. This is an important “toss up” game.

Incidentally, I want to register my disapproval of the Big Ten scheduling 2 conference games (at OSU is next week) in early December. It’s purely a money grab so that they can play the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Since MSG is busy when the Big Ten Tournament would normally be played, the tournament has been moved up a week, which requires 2 conference games to be played in early December. It sucks.

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

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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Nothing But ‘Net – Week #04 – 11/20/2017 – Underwhelming

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Monday (11/13/2017), UM beat Central Michigan 72-65, then on Thursday (11/16/2017), they beat Southern Mississippi 61-47. Both games were in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 3-0.

What Happened

Two wins in 4 days. Undefeated. Looks pretty good, huh? Well, looks can be deceiving. These were both ugly wins against overmatched opponents, and Michigan looked pretty bad in both games. Sure, they had short streaks of inspired play to finish out both games, but the first 30 minutes of each game were almost unwatchable. Actually, that’s all 3 games this season that have followed the same pattern: a seesaw battle in the 1st half, a close game with 10 minutes left, and a strong finish by UM to (finally) put away a “guarantee game”.

In the CMU game, CMU jumped out to an 8-point lead early (11-3), and still had it with 3:49 left in the 1st half (30-22). Michigan went on a 12-1 run to close the half up 32-31. Early in the 2nd half, Michigan built their own 8-point lead (42-34), and it looked like they were finally going to take control of the game. Nope. They went cold, and CMU went back on top, 47-46, with 11:53 to go. That was their last lead, as UM pushed their lead back up to 9 points (62-53) with 4:11 left, and kept it around there for the rest of the game.

In the USM game, Michigan came out hot, and had a comfortable lead (20-6) at the 10:00 mark. Then they threw the lead away in the next 7:40, as USM tied it up 25-25 with 2:20 left in the half. USM outscored UM 8-7 in the last 2:20, to lead 33-32 at halftime. In the 2nd half, USM extended their lead to 4 points (40-36) with 14:30 left. Michigan finally started playing some defense, and held USM scoreless until the 6:21 mark, while they scored 15 points, to lead 51-40. USM scored one point until the 5:30 mark, when it was 56-41. At that point, the game was over. The teams traded points, but Michigan’s lead never got below 13 points, and they won by 14.

Stats

The statistics for the CMU game aren’t very impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (26-for-59 = 44.1%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (10-for-34 = 29.4%), but they did shoot free throws pretty well (10-for-12 = 83.3%). Michigan got out-rebounded by a MAC team (34-27), but they crushed CMU in the turnover department (14-6).

The statistics for the USM game aren’t much better. Michigan shot a little better overall (23-for-47 = 48.9%), they shot 3-pointers a little better (8-for-23 = 34.8%), and they shot free throws about as well (7-for-9 = 77.8%). They won the rebounding battle solidly (32-23), but lost the turnover battle (11-10).

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. All 5 of them scored in double figures in the CMU game, and 3 of them hit double figures in the USM game.

MAAR was the high scorer in both games, with 17 and 14 points. He also had 4 assists in each game. He had a rough time shooting 3-pointers: 3-for-9 vs. CMU and 2-for-7 vs. USM.

Wagner also had double figures in both games (10 and 12 points), along with 11 rebounds vs, CMU, for another double-double. His 3-point shooting was also a bit off: 1-for-5 vs. CMU, and 0-for-2 vs. USM. He needs that part of his game back.

The other starter with double figures in both games was Robinson (10 and 12). His 3-point shooting was off in the CMU game (2-for-8), but better vs. USM (4-for-8).

Matthews hit double figures in the CMU game (13), but had a quiet night vs. USM (6 points). His 3-point shooting was terrible: 1-for-6 and 1-for-3.

Simpson had a nice game vs. CMU (13 points), but was held scoreless (on only 1 shot) vs. USM. He ran the offense OK, and played some decent defense.

Jon Teske had a decent game vs. CMU (4 points, all free throws), but he had a very good game vs. USM (10 points and 11 rebounds, for his first career double-double). He was the star of the USM game, even though he wasn’t the high scorer. Besides the 11 rebounds, he also played some good post defense. It was very encouraging to see him play with confidence out there.

Ibi Watson was held scoreless in the CMU game, but he scored 5 points (including a nice 3-pointer) vs. USM. He’s looking more comfortable out there.

Jaaron Simmons scored 5 points vs. CMU, and 2 more vs. USM, but his biggest contribution was on defense, especially in the USM game. He also had 5 assists vs. USM.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Eli Brooks only played 3 minutes in each game, and failed to score.

Isaiah Livers played 6 minutes vs. CMU and 8 minutes vs. USM, and failed to score.

Who Else Played

Austin Davis got in during the last minute of the USM game, but didn’t score.

Who Didn’t Play

Jordan Poole was the only “mainstream” player who didn’t play in either game.

The scout team players, C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir and Luke Wilson, didn’t get to play.

The Big Picture

The 2 games this past week were supposed to be tune-up games before Michigan headed to Maui for the Maui Invitational. They were supposed to be easy 25-30 blowout victories where everyone got to play, and Michigan got to try out some new lineup combinations. Instead, they were both hard-fought games with the outcome in doubt midway through the 2nd half. They were supposed to give UM some self-confidence before a tough tournament. Instead, they gave Michigan a lot to worry about.

Disappointment in sports generally comes from unmet expectations. All the “experts” (including me) expected Michigan to easily steamroll all 3 of the overmatched opponents so far this season, but that hasn’t been the case. Yes, Michigan did dig in and play tough down the stretch in all 3 games, but they played pretty poorly for the first 30 minutes of all 3 games.

So, what’s the problem? Look at the “Who Looked Good” and “Who Looked Not-So-Good” lists. Almost everyone looked good. Huh? The individual performances were fine, but the team chemistry is terrible. Too much indecision and poor decision-making. Overpassing. It’s all correctable, and it should get better with time, practice, and game experience, but in the meantime, expect some ugly games when the competition gets tougher, starting this week.

Predicted Win Total

I’m afraid I have to adjust the Predicted Win Total down a few games, based on what I’ve seen so far in the first 3 games. A few of the “Should Win” games (Ohio State [away], Detroit, Illinois, and Nebraska) have slipped into the “Toss Up” category, and a few of the “Toss Up” games (Purdue [home], Northwestern [away], and Minnesota) have slipped into the “Should Lose” category.

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

Note that 16 wins is the minimum for making the NIT. It certainly won’t get Michigan into the NCAA Tournament.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays three games, all in Lahaina, Hawaii, in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Since Hawaii is 6 hours ahead of Eastern time, the games could be on TV at very late times here in Michigan. The tournament requires each team to play 3 games in 3 days (Monday – Wednesday), so there isn’t much time for rest, practice, and scouting.

Michigan’s first round opponent is LSU, on Monday (11/20/2017, 12:30 a.m. EST, ESPNU). Technically, this game is on Tuesday, just after midnight. If Michigan wins, they play the winner of the Notre Dame/Chaminade game on Tuesday (11/21/2017, 11:30 p.m. EST, ESPN). If they lose the first round game, they play the loser of the ND/Chaminade game at 9:00 p.m. EST, on ESPN2. There are 4 possibilities for the games on Wednesday (11/22/2017):

  • Lose 1st round, Lose 2nd round (7th/8th place game): 3:30 p.m. EST, ESPNU
  • Lose 1st round, Win 2nd round (5th/6th place game): 6:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2
  • Win 1st round, Lose 2nd round (3rd/4th place game): 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2
  • Win 1st round, Win 2nd round (1st/2nd place game): 11:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2

Here’s the complete bracket.

LSU has an imposing roster, with lots of height and experience. This will be a challenging game.

The other teams in the tournament are: Cal, Marquette, VCU, and Wichita State. It’s a pretty good field.

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

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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Nothing But ‘Net – Week #03 – 11/13/2017 – A Slow Start

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it. On Saturday (11/11/2017), UM beat North Florida 86-66 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 1-0.

What Happened

The final score looks like a pretty comfortable win, but the game was close for the whole 1st half, and well into the 2nd half. Once Michigan pulled away, they finally looked good, but it was a very slow start.

Michigan took an early 7-2 lead, then went stone cold. UNF went on a 16-4 run, and led 18-11 with 10:18 left in the 1st half. Michigan looked very sloppy and lethargic. They went on their own 8-0 run to lead again, 19-18, with 6:35 to go. The teams then traded baskets for the rest of the half, with UM leading 32-30 at halftime. It was not a very impressive 1st half.

Michigan came out of halftime with a little more energy, and quickly pushed the lead up to 7 points (37-30) with 19:08 left in the game. They couldn’t put UNF away, and let them hang around. UNF kept battling, and reclaimed the lead, 47-46, with 12:49 to go. That was their last lead, as Michigan finally woke up and pulled away for good. The lead got as large as 23 points, before ending up at 20 points. The last 10 minutes were encouraging, but the first 30 minutes were depressing.

Stats

The game statistics aren’t very impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (33-for-71 = 46.5%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (9-for-25 = 36.0%), and they didn’t shoot free throws very well (11-for-16 = 68.8%). By comparison, UNF shot 60.0% (9-for-15) from 3-point range. Michigan barely won the rebounding battle (36-34), but they crushed UNF in the turnover department (24-10). That’s what won the game.

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. Three of them hit double figures.

Robinson was the high scorer, with 21 points. He shot 7-for-13 overall, and 4-for-7 from 3-point range. He also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He even played some good defense. It was a good game for him.

Matthews scored 20 points in his first “real” game as a Wolverine (the stats from the exhibition game don’t count). He shot OK (9-for-19 overall, 1-for-3 from 3-point range), but he missed several short, easy shots that I expect him to make as the season progresses.

The 3rd starter in double figures was Wagner, with 18 points and (a career-high) 12 rebounds, for a very nice double-double. Moe didn’t shoot particularly well (8-for-17, 0-for-3 from 3-point range), but he played hard for most of the game.

Simpson didn’t score much (3 points), but he did run the offense pretty well (9 assists), and he played some tough defense.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

MAAR didn’t do much out there. He scored 5 points on terrible shooting (1-for-5 overall, 1-for-2 from 3-point range) and grabbed 4 rebounds, but he wasn’t a factor in the win.

Jaaron Simmons played 10 minutes, and only scored 2 points on free throws.

Eli Brooks didn’t do much with his 14 minutes of playing time. He scored 2 points on 1-for-4 shooting.

Who Else Played

12 of the 16 players on the roster got to play, and all 12 of them scored.

Austin Davis only played 2 minutes, but he made the most of them with 3 points.

Isaiah Livers hit his only 3-point attempt.

Jordan Poole only played for the last 3 minutes, in “garbage time”, but made the most of it with 2 points.

Jon Teske played 7 minutes, and scored 2 points.

Ibi Watson played 9 minutes, and scored 5 points, including a 3-pointer.

Who Didn’t Play

The scout team players, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir and Luke Wilson, didn’t get to play.

There’s also a new player on the roster: C.J. Baird, a 6’5″, 220 pound freshman forward. He didn’t get to play either.

The Big Picture

Michigan didn’t look very good for much of the game. They’ve got a couple more overmatched opponents before the level of competition picks up. They need to fix a few things before the tough games start.

The biggest problem that Michigan has to fix is the lack of perimeter threats. The reason that last season’s team was so successful was that they could put out a lineup with 5 legitimate threats to hit 3-pointers: Derrick Walton Jr., DJ Wilson, Moe Wagner, Zak Irvin, and Duncan Robinson. That kept the defenders out of the middle, and opened it up for pick-and-roll and isolation drive plays. With Walton, Wilson, and Irvin all gone, they only have 3 players (Wagner, Robinson, and Matthews) that are threats to shoot 3-pointers. Simpson can hit the deep ball, but he’s so “pass first” right now that he passes up wide open shots. MAAR can also hit 3-pointers, but he also appears to be gun-shy about shooting. With only 3 threats, opposing defenses can pack the middle a lot more. Simpson and MAAR need to start shooting (and making) 3-pointers.

Predicted Win Total

New this season: each week I’ll update the Predicted Win Total for the regular season, based on how well UM played that week, taking into account how the remaining opponents are doing and any injuries.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 19

I didn’t see anything to change my guesses for “Should Win”, “Should Lose”, and “Toss Up” games.

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

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games, both at home. On Monday (11/13/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Central Michigan, then on Thursday (11/16/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN Plus), Michigan plays Southern Mississippi.

These are both games that Michigan should win, but they’ll have to play better than they did vs. North Florida. CMU was 16-16 last season, with no impressive wins. They don’t have a particularly intimidating roster, although they do have quite a few juniors and seniors. SMU was 9-22 last season, with no impressive wins. They do have one 6’11” dude on their roster, and a bunch of juniors, but no seniors at all.

Come on down to Crisler Arena to see how they do, and check back next week.

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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Nothing But ‘Net – Week #02 – 11/06/2017 – The Exhibition Game

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it handily. Of course, it was an exhibition game against a Division II team, but still. Wins are wins. On Friday (11/03/2017), UM defeated Grand Valley State 82-50 in Crisler Arena. This was an exhibition game, so Michigan’s record is still 0-0.

What Happened

Since it was an exhibition, Coach Beilein got to play almost everyone, and he got to try lots of different lineup combinations. Michigan pulled away early, and was never seriously challenged. The lead hovered in the 22-24 point range for most of the 1st half and the beginning of the 2nd half, before UM pushed it up into the 30s.

The game was sloppy for both teams, with 12 turnovers for Michigan and 13 for Grand Valley State. Michigan shot pretty well (31-for-60 = 51.7%), also pretty well from 3-point range (11-for-26 = 42.3%). Free throw shooting was a little off (9-for-16 = 56.3%). Here are the complete stats.

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner.

Who Looked Good

The star of the game was Matthews. He was the leading scorer, with 23 points, and he looked comfortable out there. He shot pretty well (9-for-14, 1-for-3 from 3-point range), had 2 assists and 2 turnovers, and grabbed 4 rebounds.

Robinson had 11 points, and shot pretty well: 3-for-6 (3-for-5 from 3-point range). He grabbed 3 rebounds and had 4 assists.

The other player in double figures was Wagner, with 10 points. He shot 50% (4-for-8, 2-for-5 from 3-point range), and had 10 rebounds, for a double-double.

Ibi Watson looked a lot more comfortable out there, especially compared to last season. He had 8 points, on 3-for-5 (1-for-2 from 3-point range) shooting.

Jon Teske also looked a lot more comfortable out there. He only had 4 points (2-for-3 shooting), but he also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 0 turnovers.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

MAAR and Simpson both had quiet games, with 6 and 5 points, respectively.

Eli Brooks and Jaaron Simmons didn’t do much with their 15 minutes each. They both scored 5 quiet points.

Isaiah Livers played quite a bit (16 minutes), but failed to score. He did have 3 rebounds and 1 assist.

Who Else Played

Redshirt freshman Austin Davis was the 3rd center, and he only played for 6 minutes. He made his only attempt, for 2 points.

Brent Hibbitts played for 4 minutes, but failed to score.

Freshman Jordan Poole only played for the last 2 minutes, in “garbage time”, and failed to score. It was somewhat surprising that he only got in at the very end.

The two scout team players, Naji Ozeir and Luke Wilson both got to play the last 2 minutes of “garbage time”. Wilson missed his only attempt, but Ozeir tossed in a 3-pointer.

The Big Picture

What can we learn from an exhibition game? Not much. Michigan was obviously quite a bit better than Grand Valley State, and they took care of business. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good practice. Michigan looked about as good as expected. On to the real games.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays one game, in the “Maui On The Mainland” portion of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. This game is technically part of the Maui Invitational, but it doesn’t affect which teams go to the Championship Round in Maui on 11/20 – 11/22. It’s just a “warm up” game.

On Saturday (11/11/2017, 7:30 p.m., BTN Plus), Michigan plays North Florida. I expect Michigan to win this game handily, and get more chances to experiment with different lineup combinations.

Come on down to Crisler Arena to see how they do, and check back next week.

Go Blue!

Drew Montag

Drew Montag, Basketball Editor

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