Nothing But ‘Net – Week #12 – 01/14/2013 – Back To Earth

Realistically, I knew they couldn’t do it, but deep inside I kept thinking “they could go undefeated this season”. Wrong. The (#2) University of Michigan men’s basketball team finally lost, after winning their first 16 games. They played two games last week, and they won the first and lost the second. On Wednesday (01/09/2013), they beat Nebraska 62-47 in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (01/13/2013), they lost to (#15) Ohio State 56-53 in Columbus. The win and the loss leave UM with a record of 16-1, 3-1 in Big Ten play. It’s a real shame that UM lost, since (#1) Duke finally lost on Saturday, and Michigan would have been ranked #1 if they could have snuck by OSU. UM was the last unbeaten team to lose.

Even though Michigan beat Nebraska by 15 points on Wednesday, they looked pretty weak doing it. Nebraska is easily the worst team in the Big Ten, and Michigan should have throttled them by 35 points. The less said about that game, the better. As the Nebraska game was going on, I kept thinking “if Michigan plays like this on Sunday vs. Ohio State, they’ll get beat”. Well, they did play poorly again at OSU, and they lost. They didn’t play bad for most of the OSU game, just the first 10 minutes and the last minute. That was enough to doom them. They actually led the game 3-0, then they couldn’t buy a basket. By the time they finally woke up and started playing their normal game, they were down 26-3. That’s right: a 23-3 run. They managed to cut the deficit down to 12 at halftime (34-22), and they even tied the game up (46-46) with 6:00 left in the game, but they couldn’t hit any of their clutch baskets down the stretch, and that was the game. With 16 seconds left, they were only down 2 points (52-50) with the ball, and they missed a 3-pointer that would have given them the lead.

I don’t want to look at the stats, but I’m sure they’ll tell us what went wrong in both games. The Nebraska stats are sad: UM shot poorly overall (21-for-54 = 38.9%), and they shot terribly from 3-point range (3-for-17 = 17.6%). They shot a lousy percentage (65.4%) from the free-throw line, but they went there often, and that was the difference in the game. They were 17-for-26 at the line, and Nebraska was 3-for-7. Those 14 extra points are almost exactly the margin of victory. Michigan did win the rebounding battle decisively (47-30), and they barely won the turnover battle (5-6).

The Ohio State stats aren’t that bad, just bad enough to lose: Michigan shot poorly overall again (18-for-47 = 38.3%), and they shot poorly from 3-point range (6-for-20 = 30.0%). They shot pretty well from the free-throw line (11-for-15 = 73.3%), they tied in the rebounding battle (30-30), and they barely lost the turnover battle (13-12). It was just a matter of shooting poorly from the field.

Individually, only 2 players hit double figures in both games:

  • Trey Burke – 18 points vs. Nebraska, and 15 vs. OSU.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. – 15 and 12 points. Tim also had 11 rebounds vs. Nebraska, for a double-double.

There were 2 players who hit double figures in one game:

  • Glenn Robinson III – 14 and 8 points.
  • Nik Stauskas – 13 and 0 points. Yes, after hitting double figures in every game since the opener, Nik finally fell short. Way short. He was 0-for-3 in the OSU game.

The 5th starter is Jordan Morgan. He had 0 and 5 points, but he did have 11 rebounds in the Nebraska game.

Since both games were close, Coach Beilein didn’t play many bench players. They had mixed success scoring:

Michigan really needs more scoring from the bench.

This Week

It will be interesting to see how Michigan responds to their first loss of the season. They only have one game this week, but it’s another tough one: on Thursday (01/17/2013, 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN), they play at (#8) Minnesota. Minnesota is having a great season, and they’re really tough to beat in Minneapolis. I expect the game to be close and tense.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #09 – 12/24/2012 – Three Down, One To Go

The (#2) University of Michigan men’s basketball team only played one game last week, and they won it handily. On Thursday (12/20/2012), they beat Eastern Michigan 93-54 in Crisler Arena. The win raises UM’s record to 12-0, which is their second best start to a season ever.

So, what does “three down, one to go” mean? It means that for the first time in a long time, Michigan is playing all four of the in-state “directional” schools: Northern Michigan (exhibition – 11/01/2012), Western Michigan (12/04/2012), Eastern Michigan (12/20/2012), and Central Michigan (12/29/2012). They’ve won three of these games, with one left to play. They should win that one as well.

While Michigan has to take every opponent seriously, not all opponents are created equal. EMU doesn’t have the personnel to challenge an elite team like Michigan, but strange things can happen when the game starts. So far, Michigan has played well enough every game to avoid any upsets, and they have played like a Top-5 team against many of the “cupcakes” on their schedule. This game was another example of that. EMU has a decent MAC team, and they did beat Purdue earlier this season, but they don’t have the firepower to stay with Michigan. Eastern opened up an early 6-2 lead, then UM went on a 20-0 run to put the game away before the 12:00 media timeout. The rest of the game was just a controlled scrimmage.

The stats are impressive: UM shot 50.7% (35-for-69) overall, 50.0% (12-for-24) from 3-point range, and 91.7% (11-for-12) from the free-throw line. They crushed EMU on the boards (44-30), and they won the turnover battle (11-18). Those are the numbers you expect to see in a 39-point blowout.

Individually, 5 players hit double figures:

That’s 4 of the 5 starters, and one bench player (McGary). The lone starter who didn’t hit double figures was Jordan Morgan, with 8 points.

Since the game was a blowout, Coach Beilein emptied the bench:

This Week

With finals and the holidays, Michigan has nine days off between games, and only has one game again this week. On Saturday (12/29/2012, 7:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Central Michigan, in Crisler Arena. This is UM’s last non-conference game, and they stand a good chance of being one of the few Michigan men’s basketball teams to go undefeated in non-conference play. CMU is about the same as EMU. Their current record is 6-5, with no impressive wins, and losses to Bradley (who Michigan beat) and two Big Ten schools (Iowa and Nebraska). Once again, I expect this game to be a lot like the WMU and EMU games: tense for a while, then a blowout win for Michigan.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why. Also, it will be time for mid-term grades and a look ahead at the Big Ten season.

Go Blue! (and Merry Christmas)