Michigan’s performance against Indiana felt like a microcosm of its Big Ten season. The game was filled with the highs and lows, jubilation and frustration that have defined its season but in the end the Wolverines lacked the consistency to walk away on top.
In front of a boisterous Crisler Center crowd, there were times when Michigan was dominant. The Wolverines rebounded from a slow start with a 24-6 first half run filled with the transition offense and easy baskets that they’ve feasted on all season. Then there was the 14-6 run that Trey Burke spearheaded late in the second half. That run gave Michigan a five point lead with under a minute to play and felt like a potential storybook ending to what was all but assuredly Burke’s final game game in Ann Arbor.
But Michigan’s inconsistency reared its ugly head in the game’s closing moments. The Wolverines made just 6-of-13 free throws for the game including three critical misses in the game’s final minute – two of which were the front end of one-and-ones – and allowed Indiana to escape with a one point victory.
John Beilein emphasized that Michigan’s shortcomings in the first 39 minutes – most notably, allowing Indiana to rebound a staggering 24 of its 42 missed shots – were what cost his team the game. While he’s certainly correct that a couple more box outs could have helped, it’s impossible to ignore the finality of Michigan’s final possession.
After 1153 offensive possessions of Big Ten basketball, Michigan’s title hopes came down to the final bounce of the ball. Michigan executed its late game play effectively as Burke used a high screen from Jordan Morgan, darted into the lane and fired up a layup over Cody Zeller. But Burke’s shot would miss and Morgan’s tip would suffer a similar fate after resting tantalizingly on the edge of the rim.
Michigan’s Big Ten Championship had rimmed out.
Michigan held Indiana to just six points from the 16:05 mark to the 4:30 mark of the first half but other than that stretch defensive stops were tough to come by. Indiana’s offense rode a dominant offensive rebounding performance to 1.33 points per possession in the second half and 1.11 points per trip for the game. The Hoosiers rebounded 57% of their misses for the game and scored 17 second chance points. Despite being unable to finish the job with clean defensive rebounds, Michigan still did some things well defensively. The Wolverines forced the Hoosiers to turn the ball over on 22% of their possessions, making just 42% of their twos, and attempt just nine free throws to 70 field goal attempts. How bad was Michigan’s defensive rebounding? This was the first time in the KenPom era (2003+) that the Wolverines allowed an opponent to rebound 57% of their misses.
Michigan’s offense was able to hang in against Indiana by valuing the basketball and hitting some critical three point shots. The Wolverines 1.10 points per trip for the game wasn’t great but for the most part they matched the Hoosiers offensive firepower in the second half, scoring 1.20 points per second half possession. That second half efficiency was enabled by hot three point shooting (7-of-12, 58%) and not recording a single turnover in the final 20 minutes. Michigan outshot Indiana, got to the free throw line more often and turned the ball over less but simply wasn’t able to score on its final possession.
Michigan opens the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State and would play Wisconsin in the quarterfinals if it advances. With a potential rematch against Indiana laying in the semifinals, it’s safe to say that the Wolverines will have revenge on their mind in Chicago, holding just a 1-4 record against their potential first three opponents.
- Trey Burke: Burke struggled at times and had Victor Oladipo hounding him for the whole game but he bailed himself out by making five threes on eight attempts. Burke was just 2-of-12 inside the arc and had just four assists to four turnovers – all atypical statistics. His missed front end will burn a hole in his heart, and the same goes for Hardaway, but up until that point Burke made a number of plays down the stretch once again. Burke certainly got caught up in the moment at time but really his only flaw was being unable to convert just a few more shots around the rim.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway took a lot of heat check threes, and finished 1-of-6 from long distance, but did have some strong takes the basket and was 4-of-6 inside the arc. When he was aggressive he was productive, but he needs to strive to not fall in love with the three point shot when it isn’t falling.
- Nik Stauskas: Stauskas made a handful of nice offensive plays in the first half, including a personal 8-0 run that helped Michigan control the game, but he was very quiet in the second where he just scored two points on two shots. It was a solid offensive performance overall, 12 points on 4-of-9 (2-4 3pt) shooting, but I would love to go back and watch the film to see what limited him in the second half.
- Glenn Robinson III: Robinson played one of his more balanced and aggressive offensive games in a long while. He had a great dribble drive on Watford and finished through a blocking foul for a and-one, he had a great backcut and finish and even knocked down a three pointer – his first since the Ohio State game on February 5th. He too missed a critical free throw down the stretch but it was great to see an improved offensive effort (13 points on 5-of-7) shooting after his recent ups and downs.
- Jordan Morgan: Morgan was clearly Michigan’s best defensive option against Cody Zeller and a big reason Zeller turned the ball over six times. He grabbed a gutty six offensive rebounds, as many as his teammates combined, and finished with 8 points on 4-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds. He still missed his fair share of bunnies around the basket and of course the tip at the end of the game will haunt him for a long time.
- Mitch McGary: McGary brought all sorts of energy to the game but his poor tendencies on defense were on full display against Cody Zeller. McGary was whistled for four fouls in eight minutes and was just 1-of-5 from the floor. McGary missed a critical second half layup but its clear that his energy will translate into productive play down the line.
- Spike Albrecht: Albrecht was necessary when Indiana pressured Burke full court, he did a good job of initiating the offense in his nine minutes. Albrecht knocked down a critical three in the second half and also handed out two assists to no turnovers.
- Caris LeVert: LeVert played just three minutes as Michigan seemed to lean on Albrecht’s offensive abilities over LeVert’s defense. He missed his only three point attempt of the game.
- Jon Horford: If McGary’s Achilles’s heel is his tendency to pick up bad fouls, Horford’s continues to be his inability to grab the ball. His hands just seem to fail him time and again but he deserves credit for knocking down a pair of free throws and blocking two shots.
- Matt Vogirch: Vogrich played a couple of minutes in the first half and did grab a strong defensive rebound to his credit.