Basketbullets: 2018-19 Michigan State, Part Two

Basketbullets: 2018-19 Michigan State, Part Two Comment Count

Brian March 11th, 2019 at 12:12 PM

3/9/2019 – Michigan 63, Michigan State 75 – 26-5, 15-5 Big Ten

On the one hand: it was a five point swing against the team I like to see win basketball games. On the other: it was so ludicrous that it immediately crushed all hope, and that turned out to be the right emotional state. I of course refer to the 15 seconds during which Zavier Simpson missed an uncontested layup and Cassius Winston subsequently banked in a three. These are not the events that need to happen if you're going to win on the road against a top 10 team.

There were many problems. Some with Michigan, some with the way the game was officiated, some with the ensuing lineups after the way the game was officiated. But also aaaargh, randomness.


I repeat: a dude. The #1 reason Michigan's offense bogged down was Michigan State's ability to switch screens. The guy who gave them that ability: Xavier Tillman. Tillman had 5 blocks in this game; his performance was reminiscent of Michigan going up against Isaiah Roby last year.

Both Roby and Tillman were able to mirror and contest Michigan shots on supposed mismatches, sending Michigan into a bog of uncertainty and recriminations as the "be aggressive on switches" option backfired. Via Orion Sang, DeAndre Haynes on Tillman's impact:

“I mean, he was really good," said assistant coach DeAndre Haynes. "He impacted a lot of our shots. Every time we drove to the basket, he was blocking one of our guards’ shots. It was tough.

"We tried to change some things up with him, but he’s really quick off his feet. He uses his body well, and he was able to get his hands on a lot of balls that usually we make in games. Our guards really work on the layups we have. He was a better player today. He was an impact today, couldn’t do nothing with him.”

Michigan was horribly inefficient when they drove that supposed mismatch.

Nick Ward going out was the best thing that could have happened for MSU in these two games.

This is the primary subject of a new Solving Basketball podcast that I haven't had the time to listen to yet but I guarantee is very good.

Dumping it down. Michigan again struggled tremendously to take advantage of the other portion of that switch. Teske got the ball once, IIRC, and was called for a dubious travel. Extremely frustrating. Understandable, maybe, as Michigan is a team that absolutely never posts and you can't go from "we never do this" to "we are very good at this" in two weeks. But holy hell, frustrating.

I wonder if this will be an offseason focus for Michigan. It probably should be. Tillman's coming back.


MGoPodcast 10.25: The Eternal Wisdom of Bobby McFerrin

MGoPodcast 10.25: The Eternal Wisdom of Bobby McFerrin Comment Count

Seth March 11th, 2019 at 7:23 AM

1 hour and 9 minutes

The Sponsors:

This show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store. Do you like Michigan sweatshirts and stuff? Buy one from them. Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad, Human Element, Phil Klein Insurance, and Lantana Hummus


1. Michigan State and the Universe is Trolling Us

(starts at 0:58)

The same game again: Michigan State switched, and Tillman went full Isaiah Roby. Losing Brazdeikis lost the game. The weird guys autobench lineup was extreme. Can't talk about this game without the massive disparity in officiating. If you breathed on Winston he got a foul. Iggy's 4th was ludicrous. Foster Loyer drew a foul by just falling down.

2. Big Ten Tourney/All-B1G Teams

(starts at 25:03)

Purdue has come around with Haarms, Carsen Edwards is overused. All Big Ten lists: there are three guys on the 1st team and 11 guys on the second team. Fernando or Happ? X or Winston?

3. Hockey: Minnesota

(starts at 41:50)

Are there only 15,000 Minnesota fans in existence? The good news is it wasn't the goalies' fault this time. The bad news is the odd-man rushes came back en force. Nobody to put on the power play—everyone but Pasta, Lockwood and Hughes are back-liners. The "good" news is it's not going to get better next year.

3. Hockey: Next Year

(starts at 53:32)

The clown car of next year's recruiting class. Losing Hughes, Norris, and Lockwood most likely. Bringing in Cam York to replace Hughes, Beecher, a 3rd round pick-ish guy, will walk onto a scoring line. Also Martin Lapointe's son. Losing Norris also broke up the Pasta line.Their 4th line was their 1st line.


  • Don't Worry Be Happy"—Bobby McFerrin
  • "Eye of the Tiger"—Survivor
  • "Jack Sparrow"—The Lonely Island featuring Michael Bolton
  • “Across 110th Street”

Anybody on Northwestern strike your fancy?


Michigan State 75, Michigan 63

Michigan State 75, Michigan 63 Comment Count

Alex Cook March 9th, 2019 at 11:24 PM

For the second time this season, Michigan State overpowered Michigan in the second half, and Cassius Winston led the Spartans to a victory. Even though Michigan got off to a hot start, State hung around during a weird first half, then went on a huge run to lock up a share of the Big Ten championship. Over a eight minute span in the second half, the Spartans didn’t miss a shot: during that stretch, State made ten shots in a row and went on a 28-7 run. As Michigan’s offense bogged down again against the State defense, the Spartans scored 1.39 points per possession after the break.

Winston was the engine for State, as he’s been all season. The likely Big Ten Player of the Year had a rough first half by his standards — 1-5 shooting (but seven points, mostly due to free throws) and sat for much of the half after committing his second foul on Zavier Simpson with 7:34 left. State survived in their minutes without him; they trailed by eight when he went out and trailed by six at halftime. Michigan’s two starting wings each picked up two fouls of their own in that first half, necessitating substantial minutes from Eli Brooks and Brandon Johns, as well as Colin Castleton, who stepped in after an early Jon Teske foul.

Michigan played well in that first half. Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis were active early — they each knocked down a three and each got out in transition for a bucket — and State was sloppy with the ball after not turning it over much in the first matchup. With an Eli Brooks three late in the shot clock to push the lead to 25-16, Michigan had made five of their first eight three-point attempts. Over the rest of the game, the Wolverines shot just 3-14 from behind the arc. The second foul on Iggy, who had scored a quick 12 points without missing a shot, was a particularly consequential one — Winston drew contact on the shot and Iggy was banished to the bench.

Without Winston, State finds it very difficult to generate offense, and Michigan had an opportunity to extend what had grown to a 33-23 lead with a little over six minutes left in the half, but only scored two more points before halftime. Xavier Tillman was an essential presence defensively for State: he emphatically rejected several Simpson layups and held up in their switching defensive scheme against smaller and quicker players. Tillman would go on to finish with 17 points, 6 rebound, and 5 blocks, and he outplayed Teske for the second consecutive game. In a preview of what was to come in the second half, Michigan’s unusual lineups couldn’t generate many easy looks, settling for (and missing) tough shots.

State’s second half run didn’t come right away. Teske had tip-ins on each of Michigan’s first two possessions, but State countered with a Kenny Goins three (after losing Iggy) and an old-fashioned three by Matt McQuaid (after Poole fell asleep on the defensive glass). Those breakdowns — normally few and far between for the Wolverines — came with increasing frequency over the course of the game, and eventually the Spartans were able to score at will. Iggy knocked down a three off the dribble over a sinking Goins to extend Michigan’s lead to 48-40, but State was just beginning its big run.

Winston looked uncomfortable for much of the game to that point, but he started things off with an and-one layup over Colin Castleton. A defensive scramble led to a McQuaid three; Kyle Ahrens made a nice cut and scored off a Tillman post up; Michigan’s defense was unsettled to start a possession and Winston set up Goins for a wide open three; Simpson had to give a foul to prevent a Winston dunk. Tillman made both free throws to tie the game. By that point, Michigan was imploding: they surely had prepped for State’s defense, but looked indecisive against the mismatches, rarely fed Teske in the post, and their offensive sets looked far more simple and stale than usual.

After Tillman tied the game with those free throws, Teske airballed a decent look from three, and Winston banked one in late in the shot clock on the next possession. He then beat Simpson off the dribble for a floater off glass. Aaron Henry hit a floater after a broken-up alley-oop pass fell to him; Winston charged over Poole in transition; Winston rejected a screen and snuck past Teske for a layup to put State up 7. On Michigan’s next trip, Michigan was able to get Teske the ball in the post on Winston and scored through contact — but was called for a phantom travel. It was one of a handful of questionable calls, and an important one. Winston threw an alley-oop to Tillman for a dunk on the next possession; Tillman was fouled and made both free throws after a defensive rebound; Winston made a tough shot over Simpson to cap the run.

By that point, State had built a comfortable lead and Michigan’s offense had grown dysfunctional enough to make the prospects of a comeback bleak. That foul on Tillman was a needless one — Iggy’s fourth — and Iggy got his fifth a short while later after a Tillman offensive rebound, one of many for State. Winston’s big second half got him to an impressive 23 points and 7 assists on the game, and State’s role players — particularly Tillman — played well enough. In many ways, this was a repeat of the first matchup: Michigan played well up until a few minutes into the second half when they fell apart on both ends of the floor, State went on a huge run, and Winston was the best player on the floor.

Michigan finishes an excellent regular season with a 26-5 record, but will be the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament after losing out on a share of the conference title with the defeat tonight. The Wolverines will play in the late Friday night game of the Big Ten Tournament. Hopefully Charles Matthews (who was sorely missed as Michigan’s lack of wing depth was exposed) will be healthy by then. A strong postseason would certainly mitigate much of the disappointment from the result in this huge game.

[Box score after the JUMP]


Hoops Preview: 2018-19 Michigan State Part Two

Hoops Preview: 2018-19 Michigan State Part Two Comment Count

Brian March 7th, 2019 at 2:19 PM


WHAT #5 Michigan (26-4) vs
#4 Michigan State (24-6)
WHERE Breslin Center
East Lansing, MI
WHEN 8 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan State –4, 67% to win (Kenpom)
Michigan State –2.2, 59% to win (Torvik)


Maaaaaan, really need this game right here. Not only is it for a regular season title but if this is what a road loss to Indiana does…

…the post-game presser in the event of a Michigan win would be must-see TV.

Michigan recovered from the previous loss to post wins over Nebraska and at Maryland. In those games Zavier Simpson was lethally effective and Jordan Poole was much improved. If those trends continue this game might look a lot different than the first one.


image (34)

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 Cassius Winston Jr. 6'1, 185 89 29 123 No
Egads, a bonafide PG. #3 assist rate nationally, shooting 51/42, big usage. Defense better this year.
G 34 Matt McQuaid Sr. 6'5, 200 85 14 126 No
3&D McPoyle shooting absurd 39/44 split, allergic to rim. Does mostly deserve D rep, somehow.
F 21 Aaron Henry Fr. 6'6, 210 48 15 102 Yes
Composite #141 FR mostly a dunk on assists guy. 25 TO rate when he tries to create. Very occasionally shoots a 3.
F 35 Kenny Goins Sr. 6'6 230 73 15 112 No
Gritty grittenstein has added okay good (38%) three point shot out of nowhere. Rebound magnet, creates nothing. Excellent block rate for 6'6 guy.
C 22 Xavier Tillman So. 6'8, 245 80* 20 121 Yes
Excellent utility guy shooting 65% in B10, rebound magnet, top 100 block rate, gets some steals, 71% at line. Very dependent on assists, 4.9 fouls per 40.
G 23 Foster Loyer Fr. 4'11 170 13 19 101 Yes
Gnome gets about 4 MPG. 4/18 from three on season. 27 assist rate, 30 TO rate.
F 1 Kyle Ahrens Jr. 6'6, 210 45 13 114 Meh
Low usage Not Just A Shooter hitting 63/30 from the floor. Injury Q.
F 2 Gabe Brown Fr. 6'7, 210 15 12 129 No
Composite #101 FR is Just A Shooter hitting  34% from deep.
C 15 Thomas Kithier Fr.* 6'8, 225 30 12 144 Yes
Deep bench backup unearthed when Ward went out. 20/25 on season, 11% usage.

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