the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
|WHAT||Michigan v. Minnesota|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
March 2nd, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +1*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan pulled off a road upset of the 8.5-point favorite Gophers. It was a tease. The team shot the ball well and forced 15 turnovers. DeShawn Sims led the way despite being benched early in the game. During Sims' stay on the bench, his backup Zack Gibson did some work of his own by nailing all three of his shot attempts. Darius Morris showed serious flashes of why he's going to be a damn good player in the next couple years, and everything was sunshine and lollipops.
The Wolverines even put themselves in a position to play their way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble, and made Minnesota's path to The Big Dance a little rougher. That worked out basically awesome.
Since Last We Met
Winning is overrated, right? The only time Michigan's done it since their upset in the Twin Cities was on the road against Iowa. Since then, it's been three straight losses, two of them coming at home against teams Michigan should have beaten in Penn State and Illinois. (The other was at Ohio State, where they put up a valiant effort in defeat). The Wolverines quickly went from potential NCAA bubble team to a longshot for the NIT. You've probably watched most of it; it hasn't been pretty.
Minnesota, on the other hand, has gone 3-2 since falling to Michigan, including a statement victory against Wisconsin. As shaky as their Tournament bid looked after falling to the Wolverines, wins in their last two games would lock up a tourney bid. The Gophers know they have a ton to play for tonight.
The big question seems to be whether Michigan will be able to respond to the urgency Minnesota will bring to the table. The poor performances over the last few games - including lackadaisical effort at times - can't continue if the Wolverines want to at least be respectable, even if it doesn't turn into a postseason bid.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Minnesota: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Minnesota Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Minn Def eFG%||259||58||GGG|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Minn eFG%||230||30||GGG|
|Mich TO% v. Minn Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. Minn TO%||47||99||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Minn DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. Minn OReb%||234||173||G|
|Mich FTR v. Minn Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. Minn FTR
|Mich AdjO v. Minn AdjD||125||36||G|
|Mich AdjD v. Minn AdjO||50||36||G|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc. G is for Gophers.
From the previous Minnesota preview:
Michigan has gone from a mediocre-yet-improving team to a flatly bad one over the course of a couple weeks. Minnesota is a pretty good squad, which means they will probably truck the Wolverines.
Michigan has an advantage in but
twothree categories, which would be forcing the Gophers to turn it over (something they did well last year, forcing 30 Minnesota turnovers in two games), and not sending them to the free throw line, along with not turning it over themselves. The flip side of that is that Michigan probably won't shoot a single free throw , and the Gophers actually have an advantage in forcing Michigan turnovers, something we won't see too many times this year.
As you can see, not a whole lot has changed. Of course, the Wolverines managed to pull off the surprise victory last time, as well. Ken Pomeroy and Vegas think this game is much closer than last time (Pomeroy likes the Gophers by 2, and Vegas pegs them as 1-point favorites). I'm still not sure what to think, as this could be the game where this Michigan team surprises - and teases - us all with a complete effort. I think a 5-10 point margin either way is likely, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the team with something to play for.
Michigan 71 Minnesota 63, Michigan 12-12 (5-7 Big Ten)
With Michigan mired in the depths of a tailspin that included five straight losses to teams other than Iowa, the majority of them noncompetitive, it was easy to forget that this team is actually capable of playing basketball. Beating a Minnesota team playing for its tournament life on its home court was enough to remind us of what could have been. With the next two games coming up against Iowa and Penn State, these Wolverines may be capable of putting together the mythical "win streak." If they can defend the home court the rest of the way (while taking care of Iowa on the road), it's NIT all the way, baby.
[Editor's note: you're advised not to think about Michigan's record in close games at this point.]
There were a few interesting storylines in the game, with the most encouraging for Michigan fans being the continued maturation of Darius Morris at point guard . He played 33 minutes, made two of his three shots, collected one rebounds, and grabbed one steal while dishing out five assists to only two turnovers against Minnesota's pressure defense. As I've been saying over the second half of the season, if he improves his shooting (1/3 from the free throw line, 0/1 from behind the arc), he will be a very dangerous player in the Big Ten.
Another great story from the game, oddly, was Zack Gibson. DeShawn Sims was benched early in the game, and Gibby took advantage of the opportunity, nailing all three shots that he took—two from behind the arc—and snagging a couple rebounds. He did all this in just nine minutes.
Despite what it may seem like, I seriously don't like to whine about officiating. However, when even Bobby Knight (who pulls no punches in his commentary, thankfully) expressed his shock that Michigan was getting called for ticky-tack fouls on one end of the court (at least 2 or 3 times with literally no physical contact between players), while Minnesota was getting away with seemingly everything on the other end, something ain't right. Games must be officiated fairly, end of story. The Wolverines did end up getting the benefit of a couple bad calls that could probably fall under the "make up" category, everyone on both sides would probably be a lot happier if all the call were good, instead of an even impact of bad calls going both ways.
- [Editor's note: while I agree with Knight/Tim about the calls, man was that the worst charge ever when Anthony Wright set up almost literally underneath the basket and got a call. They just put in a rule change that makes that a clear block. When the Minnesota player got up hopping mad, I had to agree with him. The Minnesota crowd wanted blood, and the refs then spent the rest of the game calling BS on Michigan, further confirming that every conspiracy theory you've ever had about basketball referees is true.]
- Michigan... shot... well? The more I think about this game, the less it makes sense for the 2009-10 Wolverines.
- Despite his early benching, DeShawn Sims, continued to show why it is he, not Manny Harris, who is the lifeblood of this team. It's going to be hard to replace him next season.
- Argh free throw shooting. This team was #13 in the nation last year, shooting over 75%. They shot 12/19 (63%) in this game, and are under 72% on the year. This year they barely crack the top 100 in FT%.
- Turnovers were the name of the game. Michigan committed just 8 against Minnesota's defense (which excels in creating turnovers), and forced 15.
- This is more like the defense we had come to expect out of Michigan than the last two games. They're playing almost all man (while occasionally mixing in 1-3-1 or 2-3 zones), with a lot of switching on screens. I think this performance is more indicative of their ability than the Northwestern or Wisconsin games.
- I saw Anthony Wright pass up an open look from three. It was weird.
- I questioned whether the long rest between games would help Michigan enough in my preview. I guess I shouldn't underestimate John Beilein's ability to gameplan - nor should the rest factor be ignored with Michigan's small rotation.
- Club Trillion watch - Minnesota's Bryant Allen joined the club last night.
Michigan has the weekend off before traveling to Iowa City for the chance to sweep the Hawkeyes. Though the Wolverines could have played me at center the entire second half and still beaten Iowa last game, Iowa has been able to win a couple games against low-end Big Ten competition. The team will have to be on their game to ensure that they don't become the latest victims. The game is a late tip (9PM/8 local) on Tuesday night.