WTKA Roundtable 3/8/2018: It Wasn’t a Switch

WTKA Roundtable 3/8/2018: It Wasn’t a Switch

Submitted by Seth on March 9th, 2018 at 6:46 AM

WTKA cover 2018-03-08

Things discussed:

  • Hit some threes with some weird guys. Michigan’s matchups vs MSU are all too good. Can’t cover up Winston’s defensive deficiencies the way Michigan spaces you.
  • Michigan’s coaching is so good
  • Won Nebraska with defense; didn’t like that we kept going at Roby and he was awesome. Wagner’s best game other than 27 points at Breslin?
  • Michigan starts the 2nd half vs Purdue with a 10-2 run after missing great shots in the first half. Purdue was one step behind Beilein all night. Painter is a great coach too.
  • Bridges turns into a jump shooter because Yaklich put Z on him. It’s not a switch! He wasn’t able to stick in the post despite MSU trying to run their offense through him.
  • State came into the game trying to punk Michigan, turned out they were the softer team.
  • What do we not want to face: zone teams. Good zone attack plan but not enough rise up shooters. Every time they face it they need time to adjust. Good draws: West Virginia (see: the VCU game in 2013), Virginia, teams that have a traditional post. Bad draws: Duke, UNC, Nova. Don’t want a Michigan-ish team.
  • There’s no favorite in this tournament. If Virginia didn’t have a history of flaming out at least.
  • Yaklich effect: 43rd percentile in P&R defense to 92nd!!
  • Craig: Zavier Simpson, best defensive point guard at Michigan since Alfred Ethelwulfsson, maybe the best ever.
  • Free throwin’: Z is up to 60% since his new routine, Matthews 65% in his last 30.
  • Can we play in Detroit? It’s possible.

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.


They’ve got a permanent chip on their shoulder and its name is Zavier Simpson

This Week’s Obsession: The Banner Gallery

This Week’s Obsession: The Banner Gallery

Submitted by Seth on March 8th, 2018 at 2:00 PM


[This and the other photos by MG Campredon]

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The Question: Choose a photo from the Big Ten Tourney and tell us why it’s representative of the trip.

Alex: I would pick the pic of me drunk at the bar with friends post-state win buuuuut no.

David: This is mine:


Shout-out to the side dribble.




This is Jaren Jackson plowing into Moe Wagner after driving on Simpson. Jackson will cartwheel to the ground and fumble the ball out of bounds for a turnover. A few things about this jump out.

One: this was not a foul. It also was not called a foul despite the heavy contact. This is because Wagner was stationary and within the cylinder he's allowed to be in. Everyone got furious about the Iowa game and rightly so; since we do so much ref complaining around here it's only right to stop and note that the refereeing for the rest of the tournament was pretty good. (Except for MSU screening.)

Two: with some limited exceptions this is representative of Michigan's defense in the tournament. If you approached the basket, usually bad stuff happened. Michigan turned Miles Bridges into a guy who mostly takes contested 18-footers. It's not as impressive to do that to Josh Langford, but they also did it to Josh Langford. They did it to Carsen Edwards; by the second half Glynn Watson was convinced that off the dribble shots by a 39/28 shooter were Nebraska's best option. He might not have been wrong.

Three: X had gotten switched onto a 6'11" guy and it didn't matter. Michigan actually put X on Bridges on purpose for the first ten minutes, which appeared to bait him into "I can shoot over this guy" mode and helped initiate that pretend Rip Hamilton stuff.

[Hit THE JUMP to get to a very Rocky 3 take on MSU basketball]

The Big Ten Tournament In Photos

The Big Ten Tournament In Photos

Submitted by Ace on March 6th, 2018 at 12:43 PM

All photos/words by Marc-Gregor Campredon.

First day: Iowa 

The game was dreadful and the Garden was quiet like a cemetery at midnight. I could even hear the officials talking to the players and the coaches. It was nightmarish and it went to overtime: not what I expected in NYC.


First Half:

Air Rahkman in action.

The Fans:

Dance - Dance - Jordan Poole is proud of your move!

Second Half:

Yeah, the ceiling again. Maybe I should reconvert as a carpenter.

The Gamer:

Horrendous officials saving the day. In comparison the ambiance was not awful.

Michigan Bench:

The guy really believed he was getting a low five from Coach Beilein?

The other side:

When your hopes fade away.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the tourney in photos.]

Michigan 75, Purdue 66, Big Ten Tournament Champs

Michigan 75, Purdue 66, Big Ten Tournament Champs

Submitted by Ace on March 4th, 2018 at 7:44 PM

BIG NASTY. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Four wins. Four days. A trophy.

Old hat.

For the second straight year, Michigan pulled off the improbable and ran through the best the Big Ten had to offer for a conference tournament championship. They sealed it this evening by running away from Purdue, which never held a lead after the game's opening three minutes. The big, bad Boilermakers could only stay at arm's length, then the Wolverines laid the hammer down in an incredible second half only marred by some late free-throw trouble that never put the outcome in serious doubt.

Just about everything John Beilein touched turned to gold; he outdueled Purdue's Matt Painter in what's been the Big Ten's most intricately fascinating coaching matchup the last two years. Painter chose to hedge hard against the ballhandler on high screens in the first half; while Michigan went 3-for-11 on mostly wide-open threes, they drew Purdue's towering big men far from the hoop—the Wolverines went 13-for-19 inside the arc and didn't have a shot blocked or commit a turnover.

Much of that was due to the stellar play of Jon Teske, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the first-half minutes after Beilein gave Wagner the usual break following his first foul. Teske was a force on both ends and Beilein let him ride for 12 first-half minutes. Teske rewarded his coach's faith with dunks off the pick-and-roll, increasingly lengthy midrange shots off the pick-and-pop, a thunderous block, and a stellar late defensive posseession on an otherwise dominant Isaac Haas, who picked up a cheap frustration foul in response.

"I really have no words to explain," said Teske.

Big lights. Little dude. Huge buckets. [Campredon]

Zavier Simpson was masterful on both ends as well. His chemistry with Teske created multiple open baskets. He got the hoop with regularity and finished. When Purdue overplayed him on screens, he generated wide open looks for Michigan's shooters. He played lockdown defense on Purdue's best perimeter player, Carsen Edwards, who went only 3-for-9 in the first half.

"He's a pit bull," said Beilein. "We have a picture of a big, mean pit bull in our locker room for every game. And he is that guy. He's one that loves to play defense."

"Muhammad and I just wanted to come out and set the tone," said Simpson. "We wanted to play great defense from the start so our energy could be contagious. And as you've seen, others followed."

While the Wovlerines went into the break up 38-33, however, it felt like they'd missed a golden opportunity to blow the game open. The announcers, and most everyone else, felt a tight finish coming.

That did not happen. Painter chose not to continue playing with fire on screens, switching them to prevent open looks instead of sticking with the aggressive hedging approach. After a few forced shots over Haas, Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman ruthlessly attacked the basket, combining for 15 second-half points and five assists.

"It takes a long time to sort of build up the substance to your team that can persevere and just won't give in," said Beilein. "They won't give in to fatigue. They won't give in to momentum changes. They just stick in there."

"You always learn something when you play them," said Painter. "And you fix something. As a coach you think you've got them figured out, you don't have them figured out."

Wagner was all smiles in the second half. [Campredon]

Moe Wagner, with his mother watching from the stands, removed any doubt of the outcome. His 4-for-5 second-half performance featured a Dirk-like turnaround fallaway three as the shot clock expired, a blow-by layup, and another triple right in the grill of Matt Haarms. He did more than just score; he led the break after a steal then hit a trailing MAAR for a big three, and he battled hard on the boards, helping M limit Purdue to three offensive rebounds after they'd pulled down seven in the first half.

"Those guards are good but not everybody has a guy like Wagner that can stick 3s, drive the ball, and play with passion," said Painter.

Then Duncan Robinson got a thunderblock on Carsen Edwards and Zavier Simpson slipped a beautiful pass to Teske for a posterizing dunk on Haas, and the party was on. Michigan stretched the lead as far as 18 before a too-little, too-late Purdue run got them as close as seven while the Wolverines scuffled at the charity stripe. That's a concern for later.

For now, Michigan is once again on a tear heading into the NCAA Tournament, and today's championship may well have locked up a three-seed. John Beilein is a wizard.

Back-to-back champs. [Campredon]

[Hit THE JUMP for more photos and the box score.]

Hoops Preview: Purdue, Big Ten Championship Game

Hoops Preview: Purdue, Big Ten Championship Game

Submitted by Ace on March 4th, 2018 at 11:39 AM


WHAT #9 Michigan (27-7, 13-5)
at #5 Purdue (28-5, 15-3)
WHERE Madison Square Garden
New Yooooooooork, NY
WHEN 4:30 pm ET
LINE Purdue -3 (KenPom)
Purdue -3.4 (Torvik)
Purdue -3.5 (Vegas)

ayyyyyyyy got me a slice why you lookin over heah


Michigan is all the way up to #9(!) on KenPom with the #6(!!!) defense in the country, which is three spots ahead of the Michigan State defense(!!!!!) they so delightfully dispatched yesterday. If you'd like to enjoy some of the GIFs a bit early, I've been uploading them to the gfycat page.

Most brackets are lagging behind the action a bit because it's a week early for breathlessly frequent updates; while the Bracket Matrix has Michigan as a five-seed, that's including several brackets that have them as a seven-, eight-, or even a nine-seed in one case. That's not happening no matter how much the committee hates this year's Big Ten. Yesterday's win probably locked up a four-seed; Torvik's forecast has Michigan as the third three-seed (one spot in front of MSU) and they don't drop off the three-line if you project a loss to Purdue. A projected win gets them to a two-seed(!!!!!!!!!!) in Torvik's forecast, though I'm guessing the committee's (justified) skepticism of the B1G this year would prevent that. Either way, Michigan may very well be playing for a spot in Detroit the first weekend of the tournament.

Oh, and a banner. They're playing for another banner. Banners are good. I like banners. You like banners. Let's get a banner.


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 11 PJ Thompson Sr. 5'10, 185 69 12 127 Not At All
Very efficient, low-usage PG. Hitting 44% of threes. Strong defender.
G 3 Carsen Edwards So. 6'0, 190 73 29 119 Not At All
Best guard in the B1G this year. Efficient volume scorer/shot creator.
G 31 Dakota Mathias Sr. 6'4, 200 78 18 129 Not At All
Three-point sniper, good passer, and excellent defender.
F 12 Vincent Edwards Sr. 6'8, 225 74 24 119 Not At All
Does a bit of everything on offense, good defender.
C 44 Isaac Haas Sr. 7'2, 290 59 27 121 Very
Behemoth. Strong post scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker.
C 32 Matt Haarms Fr. 7'3, 250 41 16 110 Very
Low-usage Haas, basically. Huge block rate but sometimes gambles too much.
G 14 Ryan Cline Jr. 6'5, 190 43 13 117 Not At All
Just A Shooter™, makes 40% of his threes.
G 20 Nojel Eastern Fr. 6'6, 220 31 19 92 Yes
Big combo guard at best around hoop. Hits the glass. Turnover-prone.

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

Hoops Preview: Michigan State, Big Ten Semifinal

Hoops Preview: Michigan State, Big Ten Semifinal

Submitted by Ace on March 3rd, 2018 at 10:46 AM


WHAT #15 Michigan (26-7, 13-5)
vs #6 MSU (29-3, 16-2)
WHERE Madison Square Garden
The City So Ni--
damn you rapaport
WHEN 2 pm ET, Saturday
LINE MSU -4 (KenPom)
MSU -3.4 (Torvik)
MSU -3.5 (Vegas)

the name's Ad-Rock and I'm here to say / we love pizza and saying ayyyyyyyy (RIP MCA)


Rivalry/banner aspects aside, Michigan is probably playing with house money at the moment. They're up to a five-seed in the latest update of the Bracket Matrix even though a handful of brackets inexplicably list them as an eight-seed (or even as low as a nine!). Torvik's teamcast has M as the top five-seed. A neutral-court loss to State in their third game in three days shouldn't knock them from that line unless the committee is up to some weird stuff again. (Admittedly, that is far from out of the question.)

A victory would put the Wolverines in serious contention for a four-seed. It'd also lock up a season sweep of MSU despite not playing them at Crisler during one of the Spartans' better seasons. It'd also give Michigan a chance to add yet another banner in the Beilein era. These are all good things. I'd like to see them.


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 5 Cassius Winston So. 6'0, 185 74 23 130 Not At All
3rd nationally in assist rate, 2nd in 3-point shooting. Turnover-prone, poor on-ball D.
G 1 Josh Langford So. 6'5, 210 64 21 109 No
Solid shooter who likes the midrange, works mostly off the ball.
F 22 Miles Bridges So. 6'7, 230 74 25 117 No
Powerful, skilled all-around force.
F 2 Jaren Jackson Jr. Fr. 6'11, 242 49 23 118 Not At All
Unicorn. Great shot-blocker/rebounder, hits threes, huge dunks. Foul-prone.
C 44 Nick Ward So. 6'8, 250 42 29 119 Very
Tremendous post scorer. Great rebounder and shot-blocker. Drives Izzo nuts.
G 20 Matt McQuaid Jr. 6'4, 200 59 14 123 Not At All
Just A Shooter™ type making 40% of threes.
F 25 Kenny Goins Jr. 6'6, 230 47 11 119 Very
Hustle guy, not sure why he ever plays over Xavier Tillman or JJJ at C.
G 11 Tum Tum Nairn Sr. 5'10, 175 30 10 113 Yes
Out there for defense/leadership. All but ignored on offense.

*last five games

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

Michigan 77, Nebraska 58

Michigan 77, Nebraska 58

Submitted by Ace on March 2nd, 2018 at 5:51 PM

Hits first three, M goes off. The hypothesis holds. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

That was pleasantly different.

Michigan played a game entirely unlike both their first matchup with Nebraska and yesterday's overtime win over Iowa, using scorching shooting and suffocating defense to post a 77-58 blowout of the Huskers in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

When these teams last met, Moe Wagner scored only two points in 32 minutes, effectively taken out of the game by Nebraska's all-switch approach on defense. This time around, Wagner and the Wolverines were ready. He surpassed his first-game scoring total within the first two minutes on his way to a monster stat line: 20 points on 18 shot equivalents, a game-high 13 rebounds (three offensive), an assist, two blocks, and a steal in 33 minutes. In case the Huskers weren't fully aware that Wagner had solved their defense, he let them know about it after seemingly every bucket, often removing his mouthguard to let loose the trash talk.

"For him to get 13 rebounds today is exceptional," said John Beilein. "And that's been -- that's one of the things that I think if he's going to play in the pros one day, that was one of the things -- he's a stretch four at that level. Stretch fours have to, they certainly have to rebound. And he's really shown some great growth there."

When Michigan played yesterday, it took them 30 minutes to hit a shot outside the paint. Wagner's triple with 18:18 left in the first half eliminated the possibility of a repeat early and the Wolverines went on to torch the nets. Michigan went 11-for-23 from beyond the arc with Wagner (2-for-4), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (a perfect 5-or-5), and Duncan Robinson (4-for-7) accounting for all the makes.

Z repeatedly worked his way to the bucket and converted. [Campredon]

Those three combined for 57 points. Zavier Simpson, showing an impressive array of finishes off the bounce, chipped in 12 points, making 4-of-8 field goals and all four(!) of his free throws while adding a game-high six assists. No other Wolverine hit a shot from the field until a meaningless Jordan Poole putback in the final minute.

Outside of a rough game from Poole (1-for-9 from the field), that was more indicative of the main guys carrying the load than a poor performance from anyone else. Nebraska tried ditching their previously effective all-switch man defense in favor of an extended 1-3-1 zone before the first half even ended. That didn't hold up for long; any attempts to go zone in the second stanza were bombarded.

"I think we've just seen it a lot more," Adbur-Rahkman. "As of late, teams have been trying to switch out their defenses against us. And I think we were just more comfortable with it today and we just picked our poison within our offense and found open shots in slots."

Meanwhile, one holdover from yesterday was Michigan's salty defense, which held the Huskers to .866 points per possession. After Nebraska made four of their first five out of the game, the defense went on full lockdown, forcing misses on 19 of their ensuing 20 shots. The Huskers barely scraped above 30% shooting for the game and had to resort to flinging themselves at the hoop in the hopes of drawing fouls; while that worked to an extent—they went 22-for-27 from the line—it couldn't keep their offense afloat.

Nope. [Campredon]

Wagner, Jon Teske, and Charles Matthews blocked two shots apiece. Simpson harrassed point guard Glynn Watson in a 4-for-12 shooting day with two turnovers canceling out two assists. James Palmer Jr. and Isaiah Roby each managed to score 16 points but combined to go 7-for-18 from the field. There were few easy looks, whether at the basket or beyond the arc.

Heck, the game went so well that Michigan even got an excellent six-minute stint out of Ibi Watson in the first half. Coming off seven straight wins and nine of their last ten, the Wolverines will face Michigan State in tomorrow's 2 pm ET semifinal. There's little need to pump up that game, especially with the Spartans looking to avenge a loss on their home floor in this season's only meeting so far.

"It's going to be a challenge again tomorrow," said Beilein. "But we're better defensively than we were back then. But they're probably better offensively. So who knows what's going to happen."

[Hit THE JUMP for more photos and the box score.]

WTKA Roundtable 3/1/2018: Pushing Back

WTKA Roundtable 3/1/2018: Pushing Back

Submitted by Seth on March 2nd, 2018 at 6:05 AM

WTKA cover 2018-03-01

Things discussed:

  • Dropping the hammer on Maryland. This team can stay in games thanks to defense, offense still feels like it can go on and off.
  • How better on defense? 1) Z is a much better on-ball defender than Walton ever was. 2) Yaklich is moneyballing, forcing defenses into lower efficiency shots: funnel to the posts, prevent threes and transition. Cut out most of the hard hedging to make it more effective. Ability to switch to versions of 2-3 zones when a matchup gets exploited.
  • Michigan’s entered the Big Ten season with good defensive rebounding before but it’s never stayed this good.
  • Iowa: They don’t play defense. Brian hates it when Michigan plays vs a zone. Garza is not a terrible offensive team but they do turn the ball over a lot. Make your threes, make your free throws (ED: prescient, guys)
  • Things for Matthews to work on over the offseason: driving to shoot, and hands.
  • If M gets to MSU Sam likes the matchup: Cassius Winston is at the perfect place but Michigan was able to take Jaren Jackson out of the lane—would MSU play JJJ at the five again? Get JJJ in some foul trouble (maybe in the NCAAs, the Big Ten isn’t going to call him).
  • Hockey tournament: The Midwest regional is in Philly. In the Allentown Arena. Geez, NCAA. At least the Big Ten figured it out. Michigan probably in the tournament despite missing Will Lockwood. Michigan’s penalty kill gives up shots from right inside the blue line and that’s not a shot you want to give up. Great year for a house money year. Quinn Hughes is a pirate. Win one they’re in; win two and they might get a better seed.

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.


south dakota and philly, woohoo

Michigan 77, Iowa 71 (OT)

Michigan 77, Iowa 71 (OT)

Submitted by Ace on March 1st, 2018 at 6:16 PM

Moe Wagner "played" M's most critical minutes from the bench. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

"I have no idea how we won the game," John Beilein said to BTN's Mike Hall.

Michigan didn't make a shot outside the paint until under ten minutes remained in the game. Their two best players, Moe Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, fouled out after playing 16 and 22 minutes, respectively. The Wolverines went 18-for-32 from the free-throw line. Players not named Duncan Robinson made zero of their ten three-point attempts while Iowa made four more shots from beyond the arc. Zavier Simpson took a late five-second call with the team clinging to a three-point lead. Jordan Bohannon sunk a dagger to send it to overtime not long thereafter.

With all that going against them, Michigan somehow found a way to pull out a 77-71 win over the pesky Hawkeyes to advance to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. It was about as un-Beilein a game that the Wolverines have won in recent memory. The vast majority of their offense came from attacking the basket, going 25-for-43 (58.1%) on two-pointers. Michigan's resulting shot chart is unlike any I remember from the Beilein era (via ESPN):

Layups and, uh, more layups.

Meanwhile, the defense bounced back from an uncharacteristically bad first half to shut down Iowa's offense for the duration, highlighted by an overtime session in which the Hawkeyes didn't hit a field goal after their opening possession. That allowed Michigan to ultimately pull away despite an unnerving number of missed free throws in the deciding period.

Part of what made this game so frustrating is that Wagner and MAAR were both excellent when they were on the floor. MAAR stuffed the stat sheet with nine points on nine shot equivalents, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals; Wagner had 11 points, made four of his six two-pointers, and had a gorgeous no-look assist to Charles Matthews. An enragingly tight whistle—the two teams combined for 46 fouls—prevented either player, and Michigan, from getting into a consistent rhythm, however. 

Matthews and Teske both came up big down the stretch. [Campredon]

Coming at just the right time, it was a get-right game for Charles Matthews. He led the team with 16 points, going 5-for-10 from the field and 6-for-10 from the line, and pulled down eight rebounds.

The supporting cast also picked up the slack. Robinson made three critical three-pointers, pulled down five boards, and came up with two steals while playing sturdy post defense. His counterpart at the four, Isaiah Livers, converted a few tough shots around the hoop to tally his most points (nine) since early January. Simpson converted five-of-nine two-pointers, frequently beating Bohannon off the dribble, grabbed a Waltonesque five defensive rebounds, and played his usual suffocating defense—Bohannon finished only 3-for-14 from the field. Jordan Poole had an up-and-down afternoon but did get a crucial steal and dunk in the second half. Like almost all of his teammates, he could finish at the hoop but didn't have his outside shot going.

Jon Teske's contributions were quite difficult to overlook. Iowa had a hard time converting at the rim with him patrolling the paint for 28 minutes; his two blocks and steal undersell his impact on defense. He did a lot more than come up with stops at the basket, including snatching a couple huge rebounds late and tapping another to Robinson while simultaneously sealing off Tyler Cook to effectively seal the game in overtime. While Teske struggled to actually put them back, he also grabbed a team-high four offensive rebounds. With Wagner unable to avoid whistles, Teske came up huge.

Michigan will hopefully get a few more threes to fall tomorrow afternoon in a tougher test against four-seed Nebraska. Even if they don't, though, they've found ways to win games anyway—plus, their two stars are impressively well-rested going into their second game in two days.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]