Three Thoughts on Michigan’s Road Win at Minnesota

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 3rd, 2014

About one year ago, an undefeated Michigan squad went to Minneapolis to face a Gophers team that was also ranked in the top-15 of the national polls. Both teams were highly touted before the match-up, and ultimately Trey Burke’s team muscled its way to an 83-75 win. One year later, the game was equally important, but for different reasons. John Beilein’s team needed to prove that it could survive a tough Big Ten road trip without Mitch McGary available, and Richard Pitino’s Gophers needed to prove that its 11-2 non-conference record was not just a result of a soft schedule. Even though the game last night was not nationally important, it was instrumental for each team to tip off the conference season with a strong start. Each team played like it mattered, so the following are three thoughts from a sneaky good game which resulted in a 63-60 Michigan victory.

John Beilein's Wolverines pulled out a tough win no the road against Minnesota.

John Beilein’s Wolverines pulled out a tough win no the road against Minnesota.

  1. McGary’s absence was felt on the defensive glass. The Michigan front line of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford was outrebounded by 10 on the offensive glass. The Gophers were all over the boards on the weak side because Horford consistently lost his man off the pick-and-roll, leading to several easy layups by Elliott Eliason. Horford and Morgan regularly pounced on the penetrating guards, leaving their men completely open either for rebounds or easy dropoff passes. Andre Hollins and Deandre Mathieu racked up seven assists, most of them to the big men in the paint in those situations. With McGary on the shelf, it’ll take some time for Horford to get used to these defensive sets and become more comfortable with how to communicate during the pick-and-roll. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 12.30.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on December 30th, 2013

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  1. As we get ready to kick off the conference season, expect to see the statistic which shows Bo Ryan’s stunning record in the Big Ten: Wisconsin has never finished worse than fourth in the conference during his tenure. Numerous hypothesis have been tested to understand his secret to success – everything from the swing offense to their tempo to their home court advantage at the Kohl Center. So, why not just ask Ryan about the secret? “The way we play hasn’t changed,” Ryan said. He added, “We just try to get the best look we can. I’m going to record me saying that and the next time I’m asked that question, I’m going to push the button and it will say that we take what the defense gives us.” Whatever it may be, barring any injuries, we can expect Wisconsin to finish in the top-3 again this year.
  2. Back injuries, specifically spasms, can get the best of any basketball player, especially big forwards. Severe ankle sprains may be the only other injury that could nag a player for months, in addition to spasms. When Mitch McGary finally decided to undergo back surgery, it wasn’t a total surprise because of his history with the back problems over the past six months. McGary said, “My back problems have been a daily challenge ever since late August. We have worked hard rehabbing the injury and I thought that everything was proceeding in the right direction until the last two weeks.”  Even though there is a small chance that he returns this season, he shouldn’t be expected to make an immediate impact because it might just take a couple of months of rehab for the back issues to completely disappear.
  3. Speaking of injuries and their lasting impact on a player, Branden Dawson, may still have a few issues from his knee injury that he endured almost 20 months ago. Dawson continues to play a significant role for Michigan State – averaging 10.3 PPG and 9.3 RPG – but Tom Izzo still plays it safe with his minutes to keep him fresh. During the win 101-48 win over New Orleans, Izzo benched Dawson during the game for precautionary measures because he collided with a teammate during practice. Izzo said, “He’s fine, there’s no bones cracked or anything like that. He just got a bad bruise. He should be no problem.” A healthy Dawson and more importantly an assertive Dawson will help Michigan State contend for a Big Ten title and a Final Four appearance.
  4. Predicting a team’s performance over the first two weeks of Big Ten play based on their final set of non-conference games can be tough, especially if the final games include weaker competition. Outside of the comeback win over Notre Dame, Ohio State‘s competition over the past two weeks included UL-Monroe and Delaware. Even though these games don’t mean much with regards to preparation for the conference season, they can still be used to fine-tune certain aspects of the game such as the half-court offense. After the win over UL-Monroe, Lenzelle Smith iterated this notion; he said, “Today was about establishing ourselves. We know what’s getting ready to come down the pipeline with the start of the start of the Big Ten. (Our opponents) have real bullets now.”  Smith (13.4 PPG) will need help offensively from LaQuinton Ross if Ohio State hopes to contend for the Big Ten title.
  5. Indiana‘s offense has been versatile under Tom Crean’s watch over the past two seasons, but their defense remains a consistent question mark. Victor Oladipo, who is one of the best rookies in the NBA, was able to shut down the best player on the team last season, but the Hoosiers defense appears to be porous this season. Big Ten Geeks describe some of their concerns with the Hoosiers’ defense, specifically their inability to stop the opposition from attacking the basket. Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams are excellent shot blockers, but the first layer of perimeter defense is letting the wings get into the paint too easily, which could get the freshmen into foul trouble during conference play. Vonleh’s 9.5 RPG are very important for Indiana and if he gets into foul trouble, they will lose one of their main advantages on the offensive end – offensive rebounding.
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Morning Five: 12.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2013

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  1. Michigan’s dreams of making another March run were dealt a major blow on Friday when the school announced that sophomore Mitch McGary would be out for the rest of the season after electing to have surgery on his lower back. McGary, who was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school even after a late slide down the rankings, started slowly as a freshman before turning around things late in the season to become perhaps Michigan’s second most effective player in the run to last season’s title game. Had he elected to enter the NBA Draft there is a good chance he might have been a lottery pick, but slowed by a back injury that had been bothering him since late August he was less effective (9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game) than the Wolverines would have hoped. Although we have seen college players make some strange decisions we assume that this will probably mean that McGary will return to Michigan next season to prove he is healthy unless some agent convinces him to leave with a guaranteed first round spot.
  2. In a somewhat similar way, but for a completely different reason, we may have seen the last of suspended Utah State forward Jarred Shaw this season after he was charged with felony drug distribution. Shaw, the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker, had already been suspended after police found marijuana after responding to a call at his residence. According to police, the amount of marijuana that they found was “more than personal use.” Given the latest information, we would be surprised if we saw Shaw, a senior, back in an Aggie uniform. Our best guess is that Shaw is headed overseas for a pro career assuming he is not playing in a prison league first.
  3. Seton Hall has already suffered several significant setbacks including both injuries and an Israeli military call-up, but those pale in comparison to what happened to Gene Teague on Friday night. Early in the second half of the team’s win over Lafayette, Teague went up for a lay-up and was undercut by a Lafayette player leading to an ugly fall (video here). Teague was immobilized, put on a stretcher, and taken to a local hospital when he was diagnosed as having suffered a concussion. The overall outcome is somewhat fortunate because based on the way he fell it could have been a lot worse. For now, Teague will be undergoing a series of tests as part of the standard concussion protocol to determine when he is fit to play again.
  4. Many of our younger readers might not be familiar with King Rice, the former North Carolina point guard from 1988-91. If they are familiar with him, it would either be through replays of old games or his history of arrests that continued up through his coaching days. So it was good to read a New York Times profile on Rice that appears to indicate that he may have turned a corner. Now the head coach at Monmouth, Rice has been arrested on several occasions including once as a junior at UNC on charges of assaulting his then-girlfriend, resisting arrest, and destroying public property. Many of Rice’s issues, including that arrest, appear to have revolved around alcohol. According to Rice, he has been sober for 17 years, but as anybody who has ever interacted with an alcoholic knows that can change very quickly so we hope Rice can continue on the new track that he appears to be on.
  5. This season has been a challenging one for Marquette and head coach Buzz Williams so it would not have been entirely shocking to see them try to get heralded freshman Duane Wilson healthy in order to try to salvage the season. Wilson, a top-100 recruit coming out of high school, has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his left leg since the preseason. On Friday, the school announced that Wilson would be taking a medical redshirt. Regardless of the status of Wilson’s recovery, which we have to rely on Marquette’s reports for, it seems like a redshirt is the best option for both parties as we doubt Wilson would have been unable to turn this team around and it seems reckless to throw away a year of eligibility on this Marquette season.
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Mitch McGary Out Indefinitely and What It Means For Michigan

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on December 28th, 2013

Some bad news came out of Ann Arbor on Friday night. Sophomore big man Mitch McGary has elected to have surgery on his lower back and is out indefinitely for the Wolverines. McGary has been dealing with this nagging injury since late summer and has, up until now, played through the pain. Thus far this season, McGary has not looked like the player he did in last March’s tournament (averaging 14.3 PPG and 10.7 RPG) and has fallen short of expectations this season (averaging 9.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG). Apparently, the McGary family decided collectively over the holidays that, in order for McGary to reach his full potential, his previously unaddressed injury needed immediate attention. So, they opted for the surgery. This decision affects Michigan as a team, and McGary as an individual player, in both the short- and long-term.

Mitch McGary's decision for surgery leaves a lot of uncertainty for the Wolverines' season expectations. (Getty Images).

Mitch McGary’s decision for surgery leaves a lot of uncertainty for the Wolverines’ season expectations. (Getty Images).

For Michigan as a team, this is obviously a major setback. When healthy, McGary is probably the most talented frontcourt player in the Big Ten. Michigan, ranked #7 in the Preseason AP poll, has had four losses already and were dropped out of the Top 25 earlier this month. Despite the slow start, the Wolverines were still thought of as legitimate Big Ten contenders. The best case scenario for them would have been McGary and Glenn Robinson III eventually growing into their bigger roles (since the departure of Trey Burke). Then by March, John Beilien and his squad would have put it all together. With McGary gone, they lose their only legitimate inside scoring threat which will put more attention and pressure on the perimeter players. Beilien’s job of getting this team to gel just got significantly more difficult.

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Big Ten M5: 12.23.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on December 23rd, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. After a disappointing non-conference season, Michigan will need to have a healthy Mitch McGary in the lineup to compete for a Big Ten title. McGary, who was plagued with back issues throughout the offseason, did not play against Stanford over the weekend. He will visit the doctors to understand the reasons for his back’s continued soreness, but the timetable for his return is indefinite at this point. His team was able to eke out a win against the Cardinal, 68-65, but McGary’s presence will be a requirement against powerful Big Ten competition. Back problems can nag for a while and this situation may linger throughout this season, but Wolverines’ fans still have hopes that they can make another deep run in the postseason if McGary can play injury-free by March.
  2. Speaking of McGary’s much-needed presence, the Wolverines will especially need him when they play Michigan State, led by senior forward Adreian Payne. Payne is averaging 18.1 PPG and 8.0 RPG this season, but his improvement over the last three years is more impressive than his numbers this season. Two years ago, Payne was still learning his role, playing alongside star forward Draymond Green. But after exploding halfway through his junior season, Payne still continues to polish his game on both ends of the floor. Shooting 45.7 percent from beyond the arc this year shows his progression from a player reliant on his athleticism to a well-rounded offensive threat whose jumper must be respected.
  3. Is there any highly-ranked team more under the radar than Ohio State this season? The Buckeyes used a miraculous late comeback against Notre Dame on Saturday to remain undefeated despite still trying to figure out their offensive identity. After getting off to a slow start, LaQuinton Ross has averaged over 18 PPG over the last three games and appears to be on pace to find his offensive rhythm. He scored 19 against Notre Dame and the Buckeyes will need him his consistent offensive production to provide a solid foundation if they hope to remain ranked in the top 10 and compete for a Big Ten title.
  4. Speaking of consistent offensive production, Iowa needs to develop a consistent outside shooter if the team wants to achieve all of its goals this season. Josh Oglesby, one of the Hawkeyes’ designated gunners, will return to the lineup after missing some time due to an ankle injury. During non-conference play, Zach McCabe has provided a long-range spark from deep (43%), but the Hawkeyes need another deep threat and Oglesby should help in that department. Even though he only made a pedestrian 27 percent from deep last season, he has the ability to get hot and score in bunches which should only add to the offensive firepower of the Hawkeyes.
  5. Illinois’ Tracy Abrams can be frustrating to watch during late-game possessions, but John Groce has shown that he will stick with him when the game is on the line. Against Oregon, Abrams repeatedly tried to to do much with the ball and ended up turning it over several times during the final minutes of the game. But his toughness and gritty attitude — what Groce likes about the guard — were on display against Missouri over the weekend, when he nailed two free throws to win the game with just five seconds remaining. Abrams is not likely to ever turn into a true point guard who takes care of the ball first and foremost, but he has the support of his coach and his teammates during the final minutes of games and it paid off over the weekend.
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Otskey’s Observations: Episode VI

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on December 18th, 2013

Battle For Iowa Lived Up To Its Billing

For my money, the best game in recent days was Iowa State’s thrilling win over Iowa on Friday night at Hilton Coliseum. This game was the true essence of what college basketball is all about. It was a heated in-state rivalry between two quality teams in a crazy atmosphere, smack dab in the middle of a basketball-crazed state. It is simple: This was a fun game, period. Although Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones came away victorious, you may be somewhat surprised to find out that my biggest impression taken from this game was just how good Iowa is. I actually thought the Hawkeyes were the better team for most of this contest. Don’t get me wrong, Iowa State played really well. After all, it beat a team I thought was very impressive so that should tell you something about the Cyclones as well. I thought Iowa had a terrific game plan and evidence of top-notch coaching and scouting was present throughout the game.

Devyn Marble

Devyn Marble and his mates were outstanding. But Iowa State was just a little bit better. (AP)

One specific example of great scouting came late in the first half when Roy Devyn Marble got in the middle of a dribble hand-off by Georges Niang and broke it up, leading to two Iowa points on the other end. Marble read the play perfectly and it paid off for his team. Fran McCaffery’s squad excelled in transition and got almost anything it wanted offensively on the low block with Aaron White leading the charge. Iowa ran some beautiful half-court sets that resulted in plenty of clean looks, especially for White and Marble. The Hawkeyes dominated the glass (but did not take full advantage of it) and answered the bell nearly every time Iowa State put together a charge, except for the final minute where it wound up costing them the game. Iowa simply didn’t make the plays it needed to win late, highlighted by Mike Gesell’s two missed free throws. McCaffery and his team can learn a lot from this game but in the end it is on the players to step up and lead down the stretch. Whether that’s Marble (most likely), White, Gesell, or someone else, Iowa needs someone to be “the man” in order to take the next step and contend at the very highest level in the Big Ten.

Michigan Back On Track?

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After a Quiet Week On College Hardwood, Weekend Action Set to Heat Things Up

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 14th, 2013

The end of the winter exam period could not come soon enough for college basketball fans. Yes, we know that it’s important for the kids to take care of their academics, but even the most fervent of followers would have to admit they could only take so many more nights of Bryant being featured in the headline contest of the evening. Nothing against the Bulldogs and their tidy 6-5 start, but this weekend’s spate of entertaining match-ups should help us all regain a little sanity Last night’s Hawkeye State battle served as a worthy appetizer for Saturday’s feast of action, but before you grab the remote and plop down in the front row seat in your living room, check out these four storylines to monitor on Saturday.

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Chances For Validation, Redemption In Ann Arbor

It may be hard to believe now, but public perception of Arizona and Michigan was pretty comparable at the start of the year. Needless to say, that is no longer the case. The Wildcats, now also known as the #1 team in the land, get a shot at validating that ranking when they visit Ann Arbor today (12:00 EST, CBS), while the floundering Wolverines will seek to redirect the trajectory of their season. Wins over the #1 team in the country have a way of curing a lot of ills, but it will take a yet-to-be-seen vigor for Michigan to earn that antidote, even on their home floor. Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan will clash with Aaron Gordon and the rest of that vaunted Arizona front line down low, but keep an eye on the battle of the Ni(c)ks. We saw against Duke how crippling a subpar night from Nik Stauskas can be for the Wolverines; if Nick Johnson’s rep as one of the best stoppers out West carries weight in Ann Arbor, Michigan may again find themselves searching for other scoring outlets. For Michigan, Saturday is an opportunity to prove that the Wolverines still might be who we thought they were; for the Cats, it’s another chance to show us that they are exactly who we think they are.

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Big Ten M5: 12.11.13 Edition

Posted by Brendon Brody on December 11th, 2013

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  1. Though he’s slightly lost in the shuffle due to Iowa‘s outstanding depth, Melsahn Basabe is starting to come on and is contributing a lot more for the 10-1 Hawkeyes. His career has been a bit of a roller coaster in terms of how his production has been up and down, but to date this season he’s averaging 7.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG in only 18 minutes of action per contest. In his last two games, he’s hit for an average of 14 points and 10 boards per outing. Iowa needs selfless players like Basabe to continue to contribute in limited minutes in order to take advantage of their depth without a drop in production.
  2. Northwestern has had a shaky beginning to the Chris Collins regime in Evanston. His former college coach and colleague, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, watched the team’s recent 51-35 win over Western Michigan, and then spoke to the team afterward. His message was for the team to stay together and fight through adversity. Coach K served as a decent good luck charm, as the Wildcats held the Broncos to 24.4 percent shooting from the field on the night. Collins may have found something with his switch to starting James Montgomery and Nikola Cerina in his lineup, emphasizing the need for tougher defense in order to get things on track from the start of the game.
  3. Penn State is right around the middle of the pack in rebounding in the B1G, but the Nittany Lions may have turned a corner in the second half of their win Saturday against Marshall. The team only allowed three offensive rebounds in the second half after giving up 12 in the first 20 minutes. They attributed this turnaround simply to a renewed emphasis on being tougher and getting to more loose balls. Without the talent that many other league teams possess, intangibles and hustle stats like rebounding will be vital if Penn State hopes to exceed expectations and make a run at an NCAA berth.
  4. Indiana knocked off Oakland 81-54 on Tuesday night, as the Hoosiers got another strong outing from senior transfer Evan Gordon. Gordon has now gone 17-of-21 from the field in his last two games. He had looked like he wouldn’t be able to contribute much offensively before those last two contests, despite the fact that he came in from Arizona State with a pretty good reputation as a scorer. If he can continue this production as an instant threat off the bench, the Hoosiers may solve some of their problems with inconsistency in their half-court production that they’ve been struggling with.
  5. NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk released their list of the 10 most disappointing players of the first month, and they listed both Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III in their rankings. McGary seems to be playing his way into shape, with averages of 9.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 2.1 SPG on the season. Robinson has been an enigma, however — disappearing for numerous key stretches and hardly noticeable at times as the team has struggled through an uneven start. My other occupation aside from writing for this website is that of a adjunct English professor, so in honor of it being finals week, McGrady gets a B- for his play thus far, while Robinson gets a D — both players are passing, but they could stand to really show some improvement.
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Big Ten M5: 12.09.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on December 9th, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. There are not many coaches in the college sports landscape that have performed better than Tom Izzo over the past 15 years. But Izzo believes that it is time to look up to the Spartans’ football coach, Mark Dantonio, to learn how to be a champion. After Michigan State’s upset win over Ohio State to win the Big Ten title on Saturday night, Izzo sang high praises of his counterpart in East Lansing. “It’s so good when you got a friend that’s in the same profession but in a little different venue because you look at it a little differently,” Izzo said. Over the past decade or so, Michigan State basketball owned the state of Michigan, but the football team appears to be slowly turning the tables since 2009. Having a great football program will further help Izzo’s basketball program reach new heights because it increases the overall profile of the school’s athletic department.
  2. John Beilein is trying to find answers to turn around Michigan’s slow start and he is looking to Mitch McGary to take over the leadership role on and off the court. McGary doesn’t appear to be at a 100%, but he could be the spark plug to ignite the Wolverines after nine games in the non-conference season. Against Duke, he was very active on the defensive glass (14 rebounds) and pushed the tempo in the open floor to trigger transition opportunities and pick up a few easy points. Nik Stauskas on McGary: “Coach is starting to trust him a lot more with the ball and anytime he gets a rebound and he’s going (down-floor) by himself, we’re OK with that. Sometimes he’s going to make a bad decision here and there, but for the most part he’s either going to score a basket or find someone who is open.” A healthy and active McGary can help freshmen guards such as Derrick Walton get comfortable on the offensive end, especially if Stauskas is struggling with his ankle injury.
  3. Indiana won the Big Ten title under Tom Crean after a long drought. They were ranked #1 in the pre-season poll, after another long drought of being ranked in the top-5 under Crean’s watch. What else is needed to add to Crean’s impact on the renewed hoops culture in Bloomington? A renovated basketball arena. Assembly Hall, is potentially up for an upgrade that could be worth millions of dollars. One of the oldest arenas in college basketball could add luxury seats in the bleachers and a “jumbotron” to show the score of the game. Any renovations will only add fuel to the well-oiled recruiting machine that Crean has built at Indiana.
  4. Without Josh Oglesby, Iowa doesn’t have a consistent three-point shooting threat, but the offense has been humming along fairly well, averaging 1.17 points per possession. Transition buckets have provided to the offensive spark this season. Drake’s head coach on Iowa’s transition capabilities: “We sent three guys back. We normally just sent two back. You send somebody back to stop the ball and you put somebody in the hole. We tried to send our three-man back and just with four different guys that can push it, it really causes confusion in transition defense.” With Devyn Marble playing the stretch-four position, the Hawkeyes run the well exceptionally well, but that pace may slow down once conference season begins.
  5. Speaking of slowing down the pace in the Big Ten, Wisconsin is off to an impressive undefeated start after beating Marquette at home on Saturday. Bo Ryan may have one of the best starting lineups in the nation because each of them averages at least 10 PPG. The three-guard lineup rebounds the ball effectively and this could be one of the most versatile teams that Ryan has had in Madison in terms of their ability to put points on the board. With the schedule they have it is quite possible that the Badgers will enter 2014 undefeated and have a manageable schedule in January too.
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College Basketball by the Tweets: A B1G/ACC Tie, UNC Plays Jekyll and Hyde…

Posted by David Harten on December 5th, 2013

bythetweets

So can anyone figure North Carolina out? Seriously, that’s a question. In the past four games, the Tar Heels have done what can only be deciphered as playing up (or down) to their competition, losing to Belmont at home before beating defending national champion Louisville, then losing to UAB before taking down the No. 1 team in the nation, Michigan State, on Wednesday night. So please, someone explain what makes this team act the way it acts. The Tar Heels’ tussle with the Spartans highlighted the two-day Big Ten/ACC Challenge, with the two conferences tying at 6-6 for the second consecutive year. When it was all over, the national focus was less on the tie and more on the fact that the Tar Heels have two wins over top five teams and two losses to unranked bubble teams.

Speaking of disappointing Michigan State performances, does anyone remember that Garrick Sherman spent the beginning of his career with the Spartans? Well, he’s at Notre Dame now, which everyone probably knows after the five-overtime thriller against Louisville last year, of which he didn’t play a minute of until the first overtime and still finished with 17 points. He’s proven a capable scorer as a fifth-year senior, putting up an event-high 29 points in a 98-93 Irish loss at Iowa. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presents Giant Opportunity For Michigan

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 2nd, 2013

What to Make of Michigan Heading to Duke in the Headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nobody ever said life after Trey Burke was going to be easy. Despite entering the season with both a top 10 ranking and preseason All-American (again) to lead the way, John Beilein had to know that this group of Wolverines would be a work in progress. Gone was not only the transcendent Burke, but also backcourt mate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a highly accomplished player in his own right. Also of concern: The fact that this year’s preseason All-American, Mitch McGary, entered the season on the mend. The bruising sophomore is recovering from a back injury, and even with a (relatively) healthy back a season ago, he had averaged only 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as he got acclimated to college basketball. Was he really ready to deliver All-American type production? Every team entered this season with question marks, but Michigan faced as many as any of their preseason top-10 cohabitants.

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

The Wolverines are now seven games into the season, and the top-10 ranking is gone. The same cannot be said for those pesky preseason questions. Michigan is 5-2 on the year, with an overtime victory over Florida State ranking as its lone victory of consequence (seriously, the average Pomeroy rating for the other four Wolverine conquests is 297). The back injury ultimately caused McGary to miss just two games, but his production since returning has hardly been like that of an All-American: 8.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in 25 minutes per game. I’m not in the habit of judging a guy off of five post-injury games, but the jury remains out on whether McGary can live up to those expansive preseason expectations.

Nor has a verdict been offered on the Michigan point guard situation. Nobody expected Derrick Walton to become Trey Burke, but the freshman has averaged nearly as many turnovers (2.4 per game) as assists (3.3 per game), while also ceding crunch time minutes to backup Spike Albrecht. In the two Michigan losses (to Iowa State and Charlotte), Walton has averaged just 19 minutes a game. Clearly John Beilein is not ready to fully hand over the reins to the talented youngster, but like McGary, there’s still plenty of time for Walton to grow into his expected role.

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It’s Time to Discuss If Michigan Was Overrated Coming Into the Season

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 29th, 2013

One game doesn’t prove anything is drastically wrong with a team, but after Michigan‘s 63-61 loss to Charlotte last weekend, the preseason top 10 team’s struggles have already raised some eyebrows. The Wolverines now sit at 4-2, which could have very easily been 3-3 given its comeback overtime win over Florida State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but the loss certainly exposed plenty of issues across the board against an inferior opponent (Pomeroy had the 49ers rated 196th coming into the game). Michigan was outrebounded, it only had eight assists, and shot only 30 percent from the field and 22 percent from three-point range in the loss. The two players who everyone expected to lead this team were dismal, with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary combining for 10 points. Robinson was particularly rough, failing to connect on any shot in his nine minutes of playing time. Nik Stauskas continued his season-long strong play with 20 points, but Zak Irvin’s 3-of-14 effort offset anything Stauskas was able to do.

Glenn Robinson III has struggled out the gate for Michigan. (US Presswire)

Glenn Robinson III has struggled out the gate for Michigan. (US Presswire)

So the real question is to wonder how much is this cause for concern for a team most analysts had picked to be second or third in the Big Ten? Does the Charlotte loss represent just one really bad night or was Michigan overrated as a top-10 team after losing two NBA draft picks and the reigning Player of the Year in Trey Burke? The easy answer is yes to both questions. Michigan likely had a really bad collective night to cause the loss, but the Wolverines haven’t really shown yet this season that it deserved to be so highly touted. Read the rest of this entry »

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