Michigan 61, Wisconsin 52

Michigan 61, Wisconsin 52 Comment Count

Alex Cook February 9th, 2019 at 3:40 PM

For the second time this season, Michigan and Wisconsin played a tight, tense game featuring great performances from both starting centers and quality defense on nearly every possession. For the second time, the home team held a small lead for much of the second half, and never relinquished it, eventually pulling away for a comfortable margin of victory that belied how close the game was. Charles Matthews was the difference for Michigan, scoring an efficient 16 points after the break and showing off his entire offensive arsenal.

Early on, Ethan Happ was dominant. He started with an isolation drive on Jon Teske and made a layup to start the game — Wisconsin went with that look often, and Happ sometimes eventually settled into a post-up. Happ would score eight points before the first TV timeout, as Michigan chose not to bring the double team and had Teske guard him one-on-one. While Happ certainly got the best of that matchup early on, the effectiveness of his isolation takes and post touches waned over the course of the game. He did get Wisconsin out to a big lead early, as a D’Mitrik Trice three brought the score to 13-5.

Michigan finally got going offensively about midway through the first half. Ignas Brazdeikis — who had another rough game against the Badgers, scoring just two points on nine shots — was blocked at the rim by Nate Reuvers, but Michigan rescued the possession and was rewarded with an Isaiah Livers three. On the next trip down the floor, Eli Brooks set up Teske, who slipped a ball screen, for two more. Zavier Simpson got to his right and scored past Davison, then found Teske on a side pick-and-roll for a dunk to give Michigan its first lead of the game at 18-17 with nine minutes left.



The rest of the half was a slog. Iggy kept on missing shots (including some wide open looks), and Happ was no longer able to score at will — though he did score on Teske and Matthews on back-to-back possessions to give Wisconsin a lead. After a physical first half, he picked up his second foul with two minutes left by shoving Teske before catching an entry pass. Teske knocked down a pick-and-pop three on the next possession, and a Kobe King put-back tied the score at 27 right before halftime.

Both teams were still cold to open the second half, but one of the most consequential plays of the game came when Happ committed his third foul. He isolated Teske, drove, missed a reverse layup, and then hit Teske while going for the rebound. While Michigan would only outscore Wisconsin by four in the ten minutes Happ was on the bench, the Badgers were much worse without him. Frequently, they were leveraged into terrible shots — and to Davison’s credit, he knocked down a few big ones to prevent Michigan from pulling away — without the linchpin of their inside-out style.

Jon Teske carried the scoring early in the second half for the Wolverines, but the arrival of Charles Matthews decided the game. Matthews’s first play — a tap-out for an offensive rebound and Jordan Poole layup — was innocuous enough, but he took over from there. He posted up Brevin Pritzl and scored a layup after an aggressive move; he posted up King and while King knew he’d try a fadeaway over his right shoulder, Matthews still hit it. He made a wild layup over Reuvers, hit a step-back two over Pritzl, dished an assist to Teske after drawing help, and threw down a two-handed dunk after blowing by Khalil Iverson. Even though Michigan didn’t make a three in the second half (0-10), they scored enough to maintain a slim lead — and that was because of Matthews.



The Wolverine defense was fantastic, as always. Teske — who may have been trying to avoid fouling — conceded several baskets early in the game, but Michigan stuck with its gameplan. The Wolverines dared Happ to beat them, and while he had a 18 point, 11 rebound double-double, he took 19 shots and had 5 turnovers to just one assist. Michigan didn’t panic and didn’t risk double-teaming Happ at the expense of leaving other players open and having Happ, an excellent passer, create open looks. While Reuvers, Trice, and Davison each made a few nice offensive plays, Happ was the only Badger to finish with double-digit points. Michigan stuck to shooters, and Wisconsin went 4-12 from behind the arc.

A Happ layup after a Matthews switch cut Michigan’s lead to 51-50 with just over four minutes left, but Michigan scored the next ten points to put the game away. Simpson made an acrobatic reverse layup after catching Reuvers on a switch, and then Matthews hit two shots over Reuvers: a baseline jumper after a drive to the basket, and a beautiful step-back two to beat the shot clock. After that basket with four minutes left, Michigan stopped Happ on three straight possessions — Teske stole a high-low entry pass and then forced misses around the basket. The victory was capped off by a Poole to Livers alley-oop dunk after Poole broke the Wisconsin press.

It was an important win the chase for a Big Ten championship: Michigan’s two games ahead of Purdue (who has an easy remaining schedule) in the win column, and the loss pushes Wisconsin back to a tie for fourth with Maryland. Michigan’s defensive effort and execution was as good as ever, and Matthews may have rediscovered his game after a rough stretch of games. The Wolverines travel to Happy Valley to take on 1-11 Penn State on Tuesday.

[Box score after the JUMP]


Chart? Chart! Wisconsin Defending Ball Screens (Pt 2)

Chart? Chart! Wisconsin Defending Ball Screens (Pt 2) Comment Count

Alex Cook January 30th, 2019 at 12:15 PM

In Part 1, I covered some of how Wisconsin guarded Michigan’s staple ball screen action in the Wolverines’ loss to the Badgers a little over a week ago. Against the pick and roll, one of the most common plays in all of basketball, and against other ball screen looks, Wisconsin ran their customary coverage: the on-ball defender went over the screen while the big executed a “drop” — sinking into space, containing the ball-handler, cutting off passing lanes for a dish to the roller, and allowing the on-ball defender to recover to the ball. This coverage was often complemented by a “tag” from a defender who wasn’t directly involved in the play; Wisconsin often left (and usually recovered to) a shooter to impede the roller’s path to the basket.

Part 1 goes into more detail regarding how Michigan was able to attack that drop coverage in the pick and roll game (and it also includes a link to a detailed description of that defense). Essentially, there are a few reads the ball-handler has to make: whether to shoot, drive, dish or kick, depending on what kind of opportunities are there.

Pick and Roll

  • 36 ball-screens
  • 9-17 on twos
  • 1-5 on threes
  • 2-4 on free throws
  • 4 turnovers
  • 23 points on 28 possessions

Michigan can slice up plenty of teams with its pick and roll game (their hot start against Indiana was fueled by looks from that action), but Wisconsin’s top tier defense was excellent in this game, holding Michigan to a season-low 0.82 points per possession. 42% of Wolverine possessions in this game ended with a pick and roll — at 0.82 PPP. Michigan has three players consistently operating the ball screen: Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews, and Jordan Poole. They make for an interesting mix of strengths and weaknesses, and between the three of them, Michigan has one of the best ball screen offenses in college basketball.

Wisconsin defended the pick and roll well for a couple of reasons: they executed the drop coverage well on most screens regardless of personnel, and Nate Reuvers was solid as the key piece of their defensive scheme.

On this play, Reuvers drops on a Simpson - Teske pick and roll — maybe Michigan’s best ball screen look — and Wisconsin clogs the paint. Brevin Pritzl tags off Ignas Brazdeikis, and Iggy attacks the closeout (something he does really well), but commits a charge (it was that kind of day for him). The Badgers wanted to take away Simpson and Teske, though, and Simpson has to make a difficult pass to kick it successfully to a shooter. Khalil Iverson goes over the screen and recovers; Reuvers contains both Simpson and Teske by dropping into the paint; Pritzl tags well to prevent a pass to Teske and has to make a tough close out. Wisconsin got a stop. This was a fairly standard outcome.

The Badgers were really sound (they ran the drop coverage on 73% of Michigan’s ball screens, and switched appropriately against more unusual Michigan ball screens) and might have the best pick and roll defense that Michigan will see all season. They’re in the top ten in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Kenpom / Torvik. Because of the Wolverines’ outstanding defense, the game was close late, but the Badgers shut down their pick and roll game — and Michigan shot 5-18 on threes. Sometimes the Wisconsin defense dictated a good look from three, and Michigan shot 28% on threes. And thus, Michigan suffered its only loss of the season.

But even though Wisconsin held Michigan’s pick and roll in check, the Wolverines had a different look too: the pick and pop.

Pick and Pop

  • 16 ball screens
  • 1-2 on twos
  • 4-9 on threes
  • 1 turnover
  • 14 points on 12 possessions

During most Michigan games, the broadcast team references John Beilein imploring Jon Teske to shoot the three whenever he lets one fly. The Big Sleep was 3-15 from behind the arc over 13 games before Big Ten play resumed, and he’s shot 9-20. Teske was comfortable as a shooting threat in practice, but only attempted one all of last season as Moe Wagner’s backup. Beilein has run a five-out system for many years — Pittsnogle! — and having a center who can shoot unlocks a lot of possibilities for the Michigan offense.

Teske is renowned for his defense, and he’s emerged as a valuable offensive player. 77% of his made shots this season have been assisted, but he can create good shots with his ability to read the defense and find space to operate. Last season, Teske would sometimes settle into the mid-range for a catch-and-shoot jumper after setting a screen. He’s expanded his range this winter and can stress the defense even more.

This was a big three by Teske. Simpson and Teske get into a side ball screen with that side of the floor cleared out, and Reuvers sinks to contain the baseline Simpson drive. Brad Davison is too far away to rotate over to Teske, and Reuvers is too far to recover and contest the three. Instead of rolling to the rim or trying to find space in the elbow area, Teske is comfortable enough to stay where he is, spot up, and knock down the open shot. On the next possession, Michigan ran another pick and pop for a Teske three to tie; Reuvers reacted quickly enough to get in a good contest to help force a miss.

[More on the pick and pop after the JUMP]