We took one on the chin in College Park but it’s time to put that one to bed and move on.
The funny part about last nights game is looking at the reaction to the game from both sides. Maryland fans think Michigan will “likely be an NCAA tournament team” and most Michigan fans are under the impression that Maryland will make the tournament as well. I think that neutral observers as well as Michigan and Maryland fans themselves might be a little less optimistic about tournament chances.
The turning point in last night’s game was Maryland’s 16-3 run at the start of the second half. Looking back at it, Beilein wishes he called a quick timeout but hindsight is 20/20 but Beilein is still learning about this team:
“I’m learning they can’t fix things on their own early in the second half, but I won’t beat them up with the tape, and we’ll say that this is what happened (in a 16-3 Maryland run early in the second half) and this is the momentum change.”
I still give Michigan a lot of credit for weathering that run and coming back in the game but in the end they allowed Maryland to get comfortable and unleashed a whole new team than the one we saw in the first half.
Maryland big man Braxton Dupree didn’t play yesterday after missing class on Monday. Dupree’s play had been underwhelming for the Terrapins thus far and Lawrence Milbourne and Dino Gregory stepped up with arguably their best games of the season.
I don’t think the loss at Maryland should do much to dampen excitement over Saturday’s game against Duke. Duke is playing great basketball and just dismantled Purdue in front of an packed house at Mackey Arena. Duke took the crowd out of that game in the first 4 minutes when they took at 7-0 lead. Hopefully the crowd can stay involved from start to finish on Saturday.
As a fan I am more excited about this game than any game since #1 Ohio State and Greg Oden ventured into Crisler in 2007. It should be a fun time and this team deserves to finally play in front of a big crowd.
Beyond the game, this is a huge week for recruiting. Top flight underclassmen Trey Zeigler (2010, pictured), Tim Hardaway Jr. (2010), Allen Payne (2010), Brandan Kearney (2011), and Percy Gibson (2011) are expected to be at Crisler Arena on Saturday. These are all big time prospects and it should be a great environment in Crisler on Saturday.
I think the starting line up will be juggled around from now until at least the conference season. Michgan doesn’t have depth in the post and it’s going to be a weakness all year. I think Beilein is just playing with how to best minimize the damage at this point. People have talked about a 4-guard lineup, starting Jevohn Shepherd, sending Anthony Wright to the moon, moving player X to position Y, and whatever else. I’m sure Beilein has gone through 100 more situations than the rest of us so I’m going to sit back and see what he does next.
Looking even further down the road, Michigan has to win the games it should: Eastern Michigan, Oakland, FGCU, and North Carolina Central. These teams are a combined 4-21 and Michigan needs to handle every one of them headed into the Big Ten season. Last year Michigan struggled against bad teams, 6-7 against RPI 101-200, and 3-2 against 200+, so winning these games without mental lapses (Savannah State) would be just as impressive as a close loss at Maryland in my book.
Notes & Links: Everyone should root for UCLA over Texas tonight (ESPN2). Brian does a very good job looking at yesterday’s game and whether it is a step in the right direction. John Borton checks in on who’s stock is rising and falling ($). Big Ten Geeks asks whether this was the best Big Ten/ACC Challenge ever. Michigan State is licking their wounds after a 98-63 loss to the Tar Heels, Izzo blames tired legs (Suton is also out 2-4 weeks).