[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan was able to eventually pull away from Minnesota for a while, but the Gophers erased a 13-point deficit and tied the game with less than a minute left — John Beilein drew up a play for Ignas Bradeikis at the end of regulation, but the freshman was blocked, and Charles Matthews came up with the rebound, took a dribble, and hit the game-winner: a tough, one-handed baseline floater just ahead of the shot clock and the final buzzer. The Wolverines played an ugly game (shooting 3-22 from three and scoring just 0.92 points per possession) but managed to prevent overtime and the prospect of a bad upset loss.

It was clear from the beginning that the Gophers were going to be a challenge. Minnesota had scored six points and it was almost three minutes into the game before Isaiah Livers opened the scoring for Michigan with a pair of free throws. Minnesota maintained that lead for most of the first half. The Wolverines were mired in a funk this weekend against Wisconsin, and that seeped into the start of this game: Michigan began the game shooting 3-19 from the field as Minnesota crawled out to a 19-10 lead. The Gophers took advantage of Michigan’s smallest lineup with some nice big-to-big passing early on, and freshman shooter Gabe Kalscheur knocked down a couple early threes.

Eli Brooks provided a nice spark with nine minutes left in the half. On back-to-back possessions, he found Jon Teske on a pick-and-roll for an easy alley-oop layup, then stopped Dupree McBrayer cold on a drive, leading directly to a fast break layup for Matthews. Richard Pitino called a quick timeout, but Michigan was awake — because of Teske. The Big Sleep scored on the next possession, following an Iggy miss; Matthews set him up for another pick-and-roll finish; then he hit a pick-and-pop three to tie the game at 23. It was a mostly horrible half for Michigan, but Teske shined — he scored 11 points and didn’t miss a shot. He finished with an efficient 15 and was Michigan's only unequivocally positive player on offense.

Beilein tried to steal some minutes with Brandon Johns at the five after Michigan tied it up late in the half, but Amir Coffey took advantage with some drives all the way to the rim. Minnesota regained the lead and carried it into the second half. Kalscheur got past Jordan Poole for a layup to put the score at 36-29; Iggy responded with a tough three over Jordan Murphy on the next possession. Iggy had a rough start, missing his first seven shots, but got going late in the first half with a couple buckets. He followed up the three with a nice defensive stop on Murphy and a coast-to-coast and-one layup. It was an inefficient game for him — his 18 points came on 23 shot equivalents — but Michigan needed Iggy’s production.

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[Campredon]

After the Gophers built that seven-point lead, the Wolverines played a dominant stretch of basketball, outscoring Minnesota 23-3 over a ten minute span. Zavier Simpson had a nice sequence — scoring on a tough running sky hook off glass, then taking the ball from Daniel Oturu and converting an easy layup. Iggy was fouled twice on three-point attempts during the run; Brooks roasted “Jelly Fam” Washington for a bucket; Livers got a transition dunk (after having missed one earlier in the game) following a Teske block at the rim. Michigan’s offense was finally up and running, but the defense was locked in too: Minnesota was leveraged into awful shots with Teske patrolling the paint.

Murphy dragged the Gophers back into the game. Michigan led 52-39 when the burly senior forward took it at Poole and tipped in his own miss to stop the run; he scored on two more possessions soon after, drawing a shooting foul on Iggy, then bullying him on a drive from the three-point line for a tough bucket. Michigan’s offense cooled off, but the Wolverines still led by ten following a shorted pick-and-roll jumper from Teske… and then Michigan didn’t score for the next five minutes. A missed Simpson layup which led to an excellent Dupree McBrayer outlet pass to Coffey for a layup and a McBrayer runner off glass over Teske trimmed the Michigan lead to 57-51 and prompted a Beilein timeout with under three minutes left.

The Gophers ran some action for a high-low pass to Murphy, who was fouled by Iggy and hit one free throw. 57-52. Matthews threw up a wild miss in traffic and Coffey got out in the open floor for a tough layup through a Teske contest. 57-54. Kalscheur got loose off a screen and knocked down a three with 31 seconds left. 57-57. Those three were the only three Gophers to finish in double figures, and the huge three from Kalscheur put Minnesota one stop away from sending what had looked like a near-certain defeat to overtime. They had gone on an 18-5 run over the last eight minutes of the half. Meanwhile, Michigan couldn’t buy a bucket — before Kalscheur’s three, Iggy barely missed a layup after getting a step on the defender.

For a moment, it looked like they had that stop. Beilein drew up a play for Iggy to receive the ball at the top of the key and make a play with Poole slipping a ball-screen and popping to the wing. Predictably, the freshman was aggressive — and he threw up a tough, well-contested shot. Eric Curry blocked that shot, and it fell to Matthews. A patient dribble caused Coffey to fly by, Murphy stepped up for a contest, and the high-arcing shot fell through the net shortly after the clock struck zero. A lengthy replay review to determine whether Matthews had beaten the shot clock as well as the game clock was evidently inconclusive, as the referees upheld the original call after a frame-by-frame review of the shot leaving Matthews’s hand.

Michigan had its worst overall offensive performance (0.82 points per possession) since that horrible loss to South Carolina in November 2016 against Wisconsin; they had their worst shooting performance (36.3% effective field goal percentage) since that South Carolina game tonight — but still escaped with a win over Minnesota. A substantial advantage in shot margin (14 equivalents) because of Michigan forcing turnovers and uncharacteristically crashing the glass provided just enough cushion to make up for the awful shooting. Matthews was the hero; Michigan avoided a bad loss (and avoided falling further behind Michigan State in the Big Ten standings). The next game is in Bloomington on Friday against an Indiana squad in free fall.

[Box score after the JUMP]

[Patrick Barron]

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #6 Michigan (17-1) vs
#66 Minnesota(14-4)
WHERE Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 7 PM
LINE Michigan –14 (Kenpom)
TV BTN

THE US

Welp, that was frustrating. Michigan comes off their first loss of the season with the easiest game left on the schedule, per the advanced stats people: a home game against the Gophers. Michigan will seek to expunge the taste of a trip to the Trohl Center from their mouths.

Ignas Brazdeikis, in particular, will want to put up some points after getting a goose egg.

THE LINEUP CARD

image (17)

Click for big.

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 0 Dupree McBrayer Sr. 6'5, 195 73 18 105 Sort of
Not Just A Shooter who splits usage about 50/50 between two and three with A and TO rates of 17 each. Hitting 33% from deep, has improved dismal shooting inside the line.
G 34 Gabe Kalscheur Fr. 6'4, 200 69 16 119 No
Composite #198 FR is Just A Shooter hitting 38% from deep.
F 21 Amir Coffey Jr. 6'8, 210 83 24 106 Sort of
Wiry swingman being forced into a lot of tough shots, shooting 49/30, gets to the line a lot.
F 35 Jordan Murphy Sr. 6'6 250 75 27 109 Yes
Bull of a PF grabs all the rebounds but can't really shoot and lack of size makes him meh (59%) at rim. A rate has doubled in final year.
C 22 Daniel Oturu Fr. 6'10, 225 58 22 108 Yes
Composite #50 FR is already an excellent defensive C. 15% OREB rate, 8% block rate, almost all his shots at the rim. Black hole you can and should double.
G 23 Isaiah Washington So. 6'1 195 43 22 90 God Yes
You probably remember this bricklayer going 10/14 last year on off the dribble 18-footers. Giant assist rate, 19 TO rate, shooting 34/19. Hits 27%(!!!) at rim. A miracle.
F 1 Eric Curry Jr. 6'9, 240 48* 16 99 Yes
Returned from knee injury 6 games ago. Generic Backup C profile.
G 2 Brock Stull So. 6'4, 210 22 10 105 No
UWM grad transfer hit 37/38% last year. Just 24 shots so far for Gophers.
C 15 Matz Stockman Sr. 7'0, 245 13 25 106 Yes
Louisville transfer was getting 10-15 MPG through early December but has disappeared. Defensive force in a couple games I saw.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]

"Pay this end his regard!" called the 5'10"/185-pound tackle. "Hey, call me a linebacker!" replied James Hall. "What's a linebacker?"

What is this? A tournament of great Michigan teams past as some gimmick to write about Old Blue over the offseason. I write up a fictitious game between two historical Michigan teams, then eulogize the loser. See the play-in round for further explanation.

Since Tom Brady’s career is now just adding some fourth quarter padding to his lead on Montana, I figured we should go back to the beginning of it. It also gives me an opportunity at the start of this series to decide what I’m going to do when a team from the Stone Age faces one from modern times who just thinks it's from the Stone Age. In truth I think it would be a slaughter, like varsity versus the club team. For the sake of keeping things interesting I’m going to set some ground rules:

  • To deal with changing rules, the 1st half is played under the lower seed year's rules, and the 2nd half under the higher seed's rules.
  • Old time teams will be treated like they're on a sliding scale of modern subdivisions, so for example the 1901 team will be treated as if it just romped through Division III. In general, pre-1880s=Club, pre-1916=D3, pre-War=D2, pre-1980=FCS, and late 20th century=mid-majors. This is probably inaccurate, but I don't want to punish old teams too much for existing before the University of Michigan invents time travel.
  • Injured/suspended players can participate equivalent to the % of the season they played, for example the 1998 team gets Marcus Ray for about a quarter.
  • I can cheat for narrative purposes

Here's the bracket, which was made by a phantom NCAA committee we can all agree doesn't know anything about these teams (because I haven't written about them yet):

image

---------------------------

Round of 64: 1902 (7-seed) vs 1998 (10-seed)

image

Willie Heston outpaces 1998 safety DeWayne Patmon, because unfair characterizations of DeWayne Patmon's speed are pretty much all anyone remembers about DeWayne Patmon

Both of these teams had to follow national championship seasons, and combined most of those loaded rosters with unprecedentedly good recruiting classes. The 1902s had a much tougher act to follow, as their immediate predecessor (Yost’s first) outscored opponents 555-0. They also returned more, including Willie Heston, one of the best backs in the game’s history. Understandably, the 1998s would feel confident about beating 34 doughty white guys.

At first glance it didn't look very competitive. The 1998s had five offensive linemen over 300 pounds, including sophomores Jeff Backus and Steve Hutchinson, while the 1902s were proud of the fact that their average weight was just 180. Hayden Epstein booted the opening kickoff through the uprights, and a gaping Yost had to be informed that under 1998 rules no points were awarded for that.

The 1998 team built up a solid-enough-looking 9-0 lead in the first half, keyed by two 3rd and long conversions by Tom Brady to Markus Knight and Tai Streets. But the 1902s had the C-Will/A-Train running game scouted well, as the small but fearless Yostmen frustrated 1998 Michigan’s blockers with a seven-man front and diving into gaps. Carr extended the frustration to the fans by refusing to throw the ball despite having Tom friggin’ Brady against eleven dudes who’d literally never seen a forward pass.

The 1998s also kept having to start deep in their own zone. The 1902s managed to pin their afterbears back with a pair of gorgeous 60-yard punts by Everett Sweeney. They also were able to churn out a few first downs each drive, with Jim Herrman's '98 defense persistently confounded by Yost's no-huddle, high-tempo offense. The hurry-up forced Carr to burn all his timeouts early, and that contributed to his decision to run then take a knee when the '98s got the ball back on their 30 with over a minute remaining.

“They’re completely immune to deception,” said Lloyd Carr as his team went into the locker room for halftime. “Even our go-to screen pass wasn’t working.”

“That’s because I invented it,” quipped Yost.

[After the JUMP: The second half under 1902 rules, and one of these teams is eulogized]

different day, same feeling that your hair is actually the nodules of an alien beast

recap in the snow

The greatest tournament for the greatest Michigan teams of all time.

I also have a BC insider, as it turns out

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