Michigan hung in there against the Badgers but just didn’t have enough down the stretch. There is a reason why Bo Ryan is 48-0 against unranked Big Ten teams at the Kohl Center and we saw it today. They know how score just enough points with their efficient offense and how to play “Big Ten defense”. Wisconsin is one of the worst match-ups in the conference for Michigan because they are just so big and physical and love to post up. As much as this one hurts, it’s hard to be discouraged because I didn’t expect it to be this close. You have to remember that this is the same Wisconsin team that dominated Michigan for 40 minutes in Ann Arbor.
In the first half the Michigan offense looked great. The spacing was good and Manny Harris did a great job facilitating the offense. Manny scored inside and out in the first half and also did a great job at driving and kicking. Other guys got involved in the first half and hit some big three pointers (5-11). The offense ran so well that Michigan actually had a lead at the half despite Wisconsin’s hot start. The second half was a different story. The game became much more physical and Manny was limited. Michigan scored 2 points over the first 8 minutes of the half and let Wisconsin take control of the game. DeShawn Sims had a big game and he kept Michigan in it but it wasn’t enough. Michigan was 1 of 11 on three point shots in the second half and you can count the number of shots that someone beside Manny or Peedi made on one hand.
Looking at the four factors the biggest differences were at the free throw line and on the glass. Wisconsin got a bunch of backbreaking offensive rebounds down the stretch which left me screaming at me television. Wisconsin’s offense was very efficient (1.11 ppp) but Michigan tightened up a bit after a dreadful start. It’s hard to win on the road when you spot the other team so many easy layups and second chances. I’m going to follow John Gasaway’s lead and avoid talking about the officiating but Wisconsin got to the line down the stretch and Michigan didn’t.
It is no time for moral victories but I still give Michigan a lot of credit. They fought back multiple times and had a chance at the end despite getting down early and coming out so flat in the second half. All you can do at this point is watch the tape and move on. All the chips are on the table for Saturday’s game at Minnesota and it’s not going to be easy. Luckily Michigan has been worlds better when they are playing on three or more days of rest. As commenters continue to point out, Michigan is 14-2 with 3+ days of rest and 4-10 with less than 3 days of rest. Our RPI held at 46 and some other bubble teams lost this weekend and it looks more and more like the Minnesota game could essentially be a play-in game for the tournament.
Programming Note: I’ll have another bubble update and an update on Moses Morgan tomorrow followed by the typical Monday recruiting post on Tuesday.
- DeShawn Sims: Peedi played very well overall after looking a little lost early on: 17 points on 8 of 16 shooting with 7 rebounds and 2 steals. The two three pointers late were frustrating to just about everyone including John Beilein but beyond that he was the one keeping Michigan in the game in the second half.
- Manny Harris: Manny was exceptional in the first half but he struggled a bit in the second. The three point shot wasn’t falling for Manny and he settled for it a little bit too much. Manny did a great job on the glass and scored 15 points but he just couldn’t get to the line. I, like many others, would like to see Manny demand the ball a little more with the shot clock running down but I’m not sure what Beilein wants in those situations.
- CJ Lee: CJ got schooled by Trevon Hughes today, Hughes got just about any shot he wanted and hit some absolute daggers. CJ did hit a couple threes to go along with 4 assists and a steal but it wasn’t his best night.
- Zack Novak: This is one of those games that is just tough for Novak because of Wisconsin’s size, his final numbers were: 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
- Stu Douglass: Just like just about everyone else, a pretty quiet game. Stu hit one triple but seemed hindered by Wisconsin’s length on defense.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval is still struggling. He hit a big three pointer but then took a poor shot the next time down the court.
- Dave Merritt, Zack Gibson, Anthony Wright, and Kelvin Grady: These four combined for 2 points and 1 rebound in 20 minutes.