Michigan 81, Nebraska 68

Michigan 81, Nebraska 68

Submitted by Ace on January 23rd, 2016 at 4:32 PM

Game ... blouses

Derrick Walton capped the victory in appropriate fashion, drilling a long three as the shot clock expired on Michigan's final possession.

After a poor shooting night nearly cost the Wolverines what should've been an easy win over Minnesota, a 10/21 performance from beyond the arc keyed a hard-fought road triumph over a hot Nebraska squad. In a game of runs, Michigan's significant advantage in outside shooting—especially to open each half—ultimately made the difference, even when they tried to hand that edge right back with ill-advised turnovers.

Walton had arguably his best game of the season running the offense with Caris LeVert still sidelined, posting a 19-12-6 line and making 4/6 three-pointers. His ability to dart into the lane and work off the high screen opened up opportunities for Michigan's two other leading scorers on the day; Mark Donnal (14 points, 4/8 FG) benefited when Walton looked to the paint, while Duncan Robinson (21, 6/12) found more room than usual on the perimeter, especially in transition.

Walton had a hand in eight of Michigan's first 12 points as they ran out to an early eight-point lead, then the Huskers clawed their way back, taking advantage of a defensive lapse by Walton to cut the halftime lead to three with a buzzer-beating triple by Glynn Watson. The second half played out in much the same fashion; M quickly pushed the lead up to 18 points, but turnovers and shoddy zone defense allowed Nebraska to get as close as two points with 3:11 left.

This time, however, Michigan closed the half strong. Walton knocked down a pair of free throws, then Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman found Robinson on a backcut with a beautiful no-look pass for an authoritative finish to get the lead back to six. Shavon Shields, who was hounded into a 4/11 shooting night by Zak Irvin, responded with a layup, but Michigan made a comeback impossible by subsequently knocking down eight straight free throws.

It certainly wasn't a pretty win. Michigan coughed up the rock 14 times, including several skip passes that didn't have a prayer of reaching their intended target; on the other end, the non-Irvin defenders had trouble keeping Nebraska's drivers in front of them, even while mostly playing zone. Road wins should never be discounted, however, and by the power of the three, Michigan emerged victorious in a difficult place to play.

Red Flowers Bursting Down Below Us

Red Flowers Bursting Down Below Us

Submitted by Brian on January 13th, 2016 at 12:58 PM

1/12/2016 – Michigan 70, Maryland 67 – 13-4, 3-1 Big Ten


those people didn't even know us [Bryan Fuller]

This was always going to happen at some point. A marquee win was going to stroll onto the court and get bombed back into the Stone Age by Duncan Robinson and the Enola Gays. Even as the team was getting hammered by various opponents featuring large angry people, I had this faith. (Probably. Shut up.)

They just had to, you know, do it. They had to take the three point shooting and shape it into a win with the other bent and misshapen tools at their disposal. The math had to add up. It had not done that so much this year. But basketball's math is changing.


John Beilein hasn't changed much in the 86 years he's been a college head coach. He will play four, preferably five, people who can shoot three-pointers and try to get away with everything that implies. The 1-3-1 has come and gone but the core has always been the Beilein Long Range Strategic Bombing Initiative.

It's worked. Beilein scrapped his way up the ranks by overachieving everywhere he's ever been. But there was always thought to be a ceiling past which this kind of basketball could not go. Early skeptics noted that Beilein's attention-grabbing tourney runs at West Virginia were paired with mediocre regular seasons. He'd never sniffed a conference title in a major league. Players who could shoot from deep were limited role players. They were Just A Shooters.

The game of basketball has changed, gradually and now radically. With Steph Curry currently redefining what NBA efficiency means as statheads in the background furrow their brows over any shot between the arc and the rim, the zeitgeist has finally come around to the idea that three is more than two.

Meanwhile Beilein has been a whisker away from a national title, a whisker away from another Final Four, and won three Big Ten championships. It's been a little rough so far this year since the post play has been… uh… well…

is there any way to say this diplomatically

if I am not diplomatic will I be arrested

I seem to have been given a choice between being massively dishonest and being banned from speech forever

…not good.

Also Michigan's recent propensity for injury has bit hard as Spike exited for good and Zak Irvin scuffled through a big chunk of the season during which the fact he was about to miss a three was more obvious than the plot of The Force Awakens. Oh, and Caris Levert has missed three games and counting.

But as ways to play basketball go it seems like people are just now catching up to Beilein. The team is catching up to expectations. Now if we can just get some additional Mitch types in here.


Yesterday they did it. Set aside the bigs going 0/5; they are not members of the backing band here. Robinson and company went 12/24. That's 50%. That is good. That is enough to overcome a lot of things. It's enough to overcome Diamond Stone using 40%(!) of Maryland possessions efficiently, for one.

And it's not a fluke. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit his lone three against Maryland and has joined the club: Michigan has five players hitting 40%+ from three. That does not count Irvin, who seems to be recovered from the back-injury-induced early season funk and is hitting 44% over his last five. They have two players, Walton and Robinson, above 50%.

This deep into the season thoughts that Michigan might reclaim their Burke/Stauskas form have been shelved. But if they can poke their nose inside the line enough to avoid the kind of drought they suffered midway through the second half, they can be a fatally flawed team that goes down in a technicolor blaze of glory.


Goddamn, Duncan Robinson. Here are the top ten three point shooters in the country.


Robinson has 42 more attempts than the next-closest guy. The only player I found with significantly more, Oakland's Max Hooper, has 133 and is shooting at a 45% clip.

And is it just me or has he improved defensively? I have not been frustrated by a bunch of blow-bys of late. He seems to be able to stay in front of PF types and is even bothering the occasional person with his length. He's by no means good, but the opposition has stopped targeting him over and over again as the clear weak spot.

Robinson is developing—or probably just displaying—the ability to Not Just Shoot as well. The drive and pretty reverse layup late in the second half was an eye-opener; he's putting up shot fakes and then repositioning as well. He was the alpha dog on Williams two years ago with a diverse all-around game; he should be able to grow into that as he gets more comfortable on a D-I court.


weird face sometimes too [Bryan Fuller]

Derrick Walton is a weird player. Walton is rebounding like a 6'11" guy. His 21.7 DREB rate is almost top 100 nationally. Many of those are of the mansome variety where he launches off both feet and secures a ball a 6'1" guy definitely should not secure. Meanwhile He's hitting 33% of his two-pointers and 53% of his threes.

I am desperately disappointed that Kenpom stopped showing you similar players based on stats*, because what does that spit out for a guy with that DREB rate, assist rate, and shooting profile? Jan Jagla, but good?

*[I assume Pomeroy dumped it because it didn't work, but in this situation that only makes it better. Other possibility: Pomeroy saw Walton's sophomore year and pulled the plug in case his junior year caused his computer to emit smoke and shut down, moaning "why Ken whyyyyyy" as it did.]

Walton is a weird defender. I was very frustrated with him in the Purdue game. He started well and then kept getting beat off the dribble by drives that didn't look like anything other than a meh Purdue guard putting his head down. So of course he comes out against Melo Trimble and crushes him.


didn't go well, could have gone worse [Fuller]

Donnal as the "Evolution of Man" poster. I dunno, man. I assume every Michigan fan had written off Mark Donnal for good. There was certainly a lot of grousing about wasting minutes on him during the cupcake games in December, grousing that I agreed with. And then he got a ton of layups and is… well, he's not good but he is middling with frightening outburst of Mutumbo.

I never thought I would say this but the defensive downgrade when DJ Wilson came in was obvious. Wilson got wreckt on a couple of pick and rolls where he let the PG around him; Donnal got over and cut off penetration. He of course had that sequence towards the end of the first half where he had two spectacular blocks* and looked as surprised as anyone that he had just had two spectacular blocks.

While Diamond Stone more or less had his way with Donnal for much of the day the progress there is undeniable.

*[The first of which caused Tiricio and—ugh—Vitale to rant about how Donnal had committed a foul. Not that I expect Vitale to pay attention to the rules of the game or even the things happening in front of his face, but Donnal "getting [opponent] with the body" was Donnal leaping vertically as opponent rammed into him. That is a major emphasis with the refs this year.]

DJ Wilson is still baking. Clearly very bad in this game, as his brief chunk of playing time in the second half resulted in a 10-2 run for Maryland that he was almost singlehandedly responsible for. Also he floats to the perimeter to shoot threes way too much. But you can see flashes of an effective player in there; he has super-long arms and length, so he gets his hands on a lot of balls and has a future as a shot blocker.

The redshirt was clearly the best idea. He's got a long way to go; he has a very high ceiling.

Speaking of Max Hooper. Hooper has 133 three point attempts that he's hitting at a 45% rate. Pretty good, Max Hooper! How are you doing inside the line?


Wow. Hooper is a junior; in his career he has attempted 11 two-point shots and 344 three.


This has been "Brian and Ace find a freakish basketball player on Kenpom of no interest to you and tell you about it anyway."

Michigan 70, Maryland 67

Michigan 70, Maryland 67

Submitted by Ace on January 12th, 2016 at 11:41 PM

Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

I'm trying and failing to process this game in the immediate aftermath.

Despite playing at home, Michigan seemingly had no business hanging with the third-ranked team in the country, not with their best player wearing sweats on the bench. Even the most cock-eyed optimist had to feel the other shoe looming overhead as Maryland whittled into what once stood as a 13-point Michigan lead. That feeling held as Mark Donnal missed the back end of a one-and-one, giving Rasheed Sulaimon an opportunity to send the game to overtime in a most devastating fashion.

Sulaimon weaved back and forth at the top of the arc, but Donnal shadowed him step for step, and while Sulaimon's heave cleared Donnal's fingertips, it didn't hit home. With that, Michigan had a signature win in hand.

Recounting how the two teams reached that point requires a play-by-play worthy of a boxing match. Donnal hit the first significant blow at the end of the first half, blocking consecutive Maryland shots before tipping in a Zak Irvin miss at the buzzer to give the Wolverines an eight-point halftime margin.

Michigan extended that lead behind jumpers from Duncan Robinson, Zak Irvin, and Derrick Walton—in Walton's case, a four-point play after holding his form with center Diamond Stone barrelling through him—but the combination of Stone and Jake Layman countered in a big way. Stone bullied Maryland back into striking distance; Layman tied it up with a smooth midrange stroke; Stone gave the Terps a one-point lead at the 6:33 mark with an and-one.


On the ropes, Michigan fought back, retaking the lead with an and-one of their own from Donnal. Robinson hit a spectacular lefty reverse. Walton drilled a step-back from the elbow. Irvin connected from long range. The lead stood at eight with three minutes remaining.

Sulaimon, who'd been off all night, knocked consecutive three-pointers through, leading to a furious finish as Michigan couldn't put the Terps away at the line. When Sulaimon's final attempt bounced to the corner and the clock hit zero, the Crisler Center crowd unleashed 40 minutes of pent-up nerves.

Irvin finished with 22 points on 17 shot equivalents, Robinson made 5/9 three-pointers on his way to 17, and Walton posted a 12-10-4 line while contributing to a season-worst performance from star Terps guard Melo Trimble, who mustered only two points. Donnal cemented himself as the team's top center with eight points, nine boards, and two blocks; his rebound of a Walton miss with 17 seconds left gained Michigan a critical point while burning a few seconds off the clock.

After little went right against Purdue, everything came together for a Michigan squad missing Caris LeVert, and the schedule eases up considerably after Sunday's trip to Iowa. This may well be the victory that pushes Michigan to the right side of the tourney bubble when all is said and done; it took a true team effort to obtain it.

The Good, The Bad, The Bigs: Hoops At The Halfway Point

The Good, The Bad, The Bigs: Hoops At The Halfway Point

Submitted by Ace on January 11th, 2016 at 4:31 PM

Michigan crossed the halfway mark of 2015-16 Thursday at Purdue in a game that unfortunately encapsulated much of the season thus far: a shorthanded Wolverine squad turned in a strong offensive performance (accounting for context here) that fell short of covering for their defensive shortcomings against a quality opponent.

While it hasn't been a bad year—Michigan is 12-4; they were 10-6 at this point last season with two awful losses—it hasn't been the bounce-back many expected. The Wolverines have beaten the teams they should beat, but they've yet to take down a top-50 KenPom opponent in four tries, and that'll have to change if they want to make a tourney run.

So what's gone well, what hasn't, and what will swing this season one way or the other?


All photos: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Caris LeVert. Aside from a woeful performance at SMU, LeVert has been one of the best and most consistent players in the country. He boasts the third-best offensive rating among players who use at least 24% of their team's possessions, per KenPom. His drives are more productive than ever before; instead of snaking his way towards the basket, LeVert is getting there more directly, finishing at the highest rate of his career (77.4% at the rim, per hoop-math), and posting the assist-to-turnover rate of a good point guard—which he functions as for this team, something equally evident in his absence as his presence.

When healthy, LeVert has looked like the potential All-American we hoped he'd become, a triple-double threat any time he steps on the court. Unfortunately, the "when healthy" caveat is now required; I'll cover that in another section.

Duncan Robinson. This is Robinson's definitely-not-altered shot chart from Shot Analytics:

One could leave it at that and conclude Robinson has exceeded expectations. In the beginning of the season, there wouldn't have been much more to say anyway; through the first four games he attempted 16 three-pointers and four two-pointers while failing to tally an assist. Robinson has at least one assist in ten of the 12 games since that point, however, and he's used the threat of his outside shot to generate opportunities for himself and others closer to the tin.

Robinson is quietly improving defensively, too, though he set the bar quite low to start the year. His lethal efficiency on offense more than makes up for that; it's hard to complain about a player who's first nationally in ORtg, eFG%, and True Shooting %.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman. The bright spot in an otherwise dreadful game at Purdue, Rahk was the only Wolverine who could get to the hoop and finish in LeVert's absence. In the two games since LeVert's injury, Rahk is 11/15 on two-pointers, 4/8 on threes, 5/6 from the line, and he hasn't recorded a turnover. While it'd be great to see Rahk pass the, um, rock a little more—only Aubrey Dawkins has a lower assist rate among non-centers—his ability to generate buckets on his own is huge coming off the bench, and as his outside shots develops (11/29 this season) he could carve out a huge role for himself.

Three-point shooting. Michigan is shooting 43% from beyond the arc as a team. Four high-volume shooters—Robinson, LeVert, Dawkins, and Derrick Walton—are making 45% or better. It boggles the mind to consider where the team's numbers would be if Zak Irvin (15/59) had been shooting like he did as an underclassman.

[Hit THE JUMP for the bad and the we're-not-sure-yet.]

Hoops Mailbag: Robinson's Shooting, B1G Expectations, Next Breakout

Hoops Mailbag: Robinson's Shooting, B1G Expectations, Next Breakout

Submitted by Ace on January 6th, 2016 at 12:24 PM

It's more likely than not this will go in. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Before Michigan takes on Purdue in their first huge test of conference play, I took a few questions on the season thus far and the outlook going forward. Let's start with a fun one.

Not at all unreasonable! Michigan is essentially at the midpoint of the season—they've played 15 of their 31 regular-season games—and Robinson is shooting 57% on over six three-point attempts per game. That alone is a good sample to go on and feel optimistic.

It's also reasonable based on the eye test. Robinson gets his share of great looks created by the LeVert/Irvin/Walton trio, which knows by now that finding Robinson open on the perimeter is the most optimal shot to generate on a given possession. Mark Donnal's emergence as a pick-and-roll threat is creating more open looks for Robinson as the spot-up option in a three-man game; even if that's not sustainable against better teams, it can only help his output compared to the beginning of the year, when M had little P&R game to speak of.

Most importantly, we already know Robinson is an incredible shooter. He hit 46% of his threes as a freshman at Williams while being the focal point of the offense. He spent his redshirt year shattering Nik Stauskas' practice records. He's got a textbook, repeatable stroke, leaving him less prone to the streakiness of a guy like Zak Irvin.

For Robinson to drop to 50% on the year, he'd have to cool off considerably. If we assume he finishes the season with 200 three-point attempts (he's at 91 right now), he'd have to shoot 44%—a 13-point dropoff from his current average—just to sink to 50%. While his shooting may take a hit due to the increased level of competition, I don't think the effect will be nearly that drastic. This is a special player.

[Hit THE JUMP for a breakdown of M's win probability against top-tier teams, parallels between this squad and the 2011-12 team, a guess at the next breakout performance, and more.]

Michigan 96, Bryant 60

Michigan 96, Bryant 60

Submitted by Ace on December 23rd, 2015 at 9:25 PM

[Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

That went as expected.

The last time Bryant played at Michigan, the Wolverines rained in a school record 16 three-pointers in a blowout victory. This time around, Michigan one-upped their previous performance, tallying their 17th triple when Kam Chatman beat the shot clock and the final buzzer from right in front of the bench.

Any other drama had long since passed. Michigan tore apart Bryant's matchup and 2-3 zones in the first half, recording 12 of their threes in the first 20 minutes and tallying assists on 17 of their 21 first-half field goals. Even though the defense had a sub-par half, Michigan went into the tunnel with a 22-point lead. The going wasn't quite as easy when the Bulldogs went man-to-man for much of the second, but by that point it hardly mattered.

What did matter, from Michigan's perspective, was seeing Zak Irvin get off the schneid; he connected on 2/4 triples after heading into the game with a 3/19 in the month of December.

"It was a huge weight off my back," said a visibly relieved Irvin after the game.

Irvin was one of several beneficaries of great ball movement by Michigan, led by Caris LeVert (8 assists), Duncan Robinson (6), and Derrick Walton (5). The Wolverines passed up open jumpers for even more open jumpers, and that opened up the paint, especially once Bryant switched to man; Michigan made 20 of 28 two-pointers in addition to their record-setting night from beyond the arc.

LeVert paced the team with 19 points, followed by Irvin with 16, and three others finished in double figures.

At long last, Michigan has made their way through non-conference play, and they'll carry a 10-3 record—with no bad losses—into the conference opener at Illinois on December 30th. The fans aren't the only ones who are relieved to see stiffer competition.

"I want to get on with the Big Ten and play," said John Beilein. Amen to that.

This Week’s Obsession: Back FROM the Future

This Week’s Obsession: Back FROM the Future

Submitted by Seth on December 17th, 2015 at 4:00 PM

The Question:

Taking an old question in reverse: Choose one current Michigan player whom you'd like to take back in time and have him play for a former team?


The Responses:

David: I think I would put Zach Werenski onto the 2010-11 Michigan Hockey team. 

After Brandon Burlon's injury before the tournament run, freshman Kevin Clare was pushed into Michigan's 3rd defensive pairing...which ended up turning into playing mostly just five defensemen.   After the Tiny Jesus show against North Dakota in the National Semifinal -where Hunwick made a whopping 40 saves- Michigan was just gassed going into the Title Game.  It showed as M took twice as many penalties as Duluth did.  Hunwick played amazing again, but the team was chasing play most of the time.  If you put another NHL first round defenseman on that team and Clare isn't forced into action that might have been a little above his head -or if thy could have rotated through 6 blue-liners more confidently (Clare did have 2 of M's penalties)- Michigan might have been able to stay out of the box more and conserved energy, etc, etc.  Not to mention adding Werenski's offensive prowess...he already has 4-8-12 in half a year, this year.  Would it be a slam dunk?  I don't know...but I would take another shot at that game if I could get it...

Option #2 (if its allowed): Trading Senior LeVert for Freshman LeVert in 2012-13.

Option #3: Adding Peppers/Lewis to the '06 football team...but would either of them (or anyone, for that matter) keep their feet on that hideous Columbus sod??


[After THE JUMP: we debate which team would most benefit from #HoverPeppers]

Michigan 77, Northern Kentucky 62

Michigan 77, Northern Kentucky 62

Submitted by Ace on December 15th, 2015 at 9:10 PM

Caris LeVert recorded the fourth triple-double in program history. [Fuller]

Caris LeVert's most memorable play of the evening didn't even count towards the fourth triple-double in Michigan basketball history.

LeVert finished with 13 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists, but his steal and Gumby-like save in the second half stood out as the highlight in a game Michigan controlled from start to finish. Duncan Robinson made a sizable contribution to that assist total, knocking down three of his six first-half triples off LeVert passes.  

Robinson scored all 18 of his game-high points in the first half. He also scored them all from the same location:

When Northern Kentucky reconfigured their defense to prevent Robinson from getting the ball in the second half, the rest of Michigan's offense benefited, especially LeVert and Derrick Walton. Walton returned from his ankle injury, got the start, and looked healthy—save for a brief scare after a hard foul in the second half—in a 16-point effort.

Outside of LeVert making history, Robinson raining threes, and Walton looking spry, the major intrigue from this game came from how John Beilein handled the rotation. (Alright, and the defense once again being not-so-good, but let's leave that for another day.) LeVert, Robinson, Walton, and Zak Irvin all played 34 minutes or more, while Ricky Doyle (23) and Mark Donnal (14) took up nearly all the minutes at the five; Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (11) was the only non-center backup to see anything approaching significant time. Donnal had easily his best performance of the year, netting his season-high 11th point on the pick-and-roll to give LeVert his triple-double.

Andrew Dakich entered in time to run out the clock, and he did so with aplomb.

Tonight's bad poetry:

Duncan made a three.
Duncan made another three.
I need four more lines.

Basketbullets: Delaware State

Basketbullets: Delaware State

Submitted by Ace on December 14th, 2015 at 3:50 PM

Once again, we're here. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Michigan beat Delaware State 80-33 on Saturday, and while the game itself didn't contain much of note, the shuffling of M's lineup due both to injury and personnel issues continued. There's enough of interest for a basketbullets post, starting with...

Mea culpa. So, yeah, I mailed in the game recap. My general stance on these games is to take them about as seriously as one should when the foe is a team that barely looks like they're playing the same sport, but despite the upcoming schedule—Northern Kentucky, Youngstown State, Bryant—I'll be shelving the bad poetry recaps. In my defense, Delaware State was so, so bad; they had as many turnovers (17) as combined made FGs and FTs.

Robinson replaces Dawkins. John Beilein made a move in the starting lineup that wasn't dictated by injury, replacing Aubrey Dawkins with Duncan Robinson. Beilein discussed the move in the postgame presser:

“We feel right now our flow defensively and offensively is better as a starter for Duncan. Get him in there and let him go and get more scorers out there. He and Aubrey do a lot of things very similar, there’s just a different flow right now with him. I think it make other guys better, and as we work at some of the things Aubrey’s working at, we can shore some of his weaknesses up, which I think we some of it today.

The justification is simple. While Dawkins has been a solid offensive player this year, he doesn't add as much on that end as Robinson—they're both mostly spot-up gunners and Robinson is outshooting Dawkins 60% to 39% on threes with a higher volume of attempts while dishing out more assists and turning the ball over less. Both have some degree of disastrous on defense all season, and with that continuing to be the case, Michigan might as well have Robinson out there as much as they can.

That said, when Michigan hits the meatier portion of the schedule, I wouldn't mind seeing Robinson move back to a sixth man role if Dawkins can be something other than awful on defense; bringing Robinson off the bench often allows him more time against an inferior matchup (the opponent's bench wing) when he's on the court.

The point guard situation. With Derrick Walton temporarily sidelined—he'll play tomorrow barring a setback—and Spike Albrecht permanently so, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got the start and Andrew Dakich burned a planned redshirt (again) to provide backup minutes. With Walton returning, Dakich shouldn't be much of a factor going forward—he had four points, three assists, and two turnovers in 20 minutes—but Rahk's contributions are worth a closer look.

Rahk still isn't a point guard. He has seven assists and six turnovers in 195 minutes this year; his 6.8% assist rate is below every Michigan regular's mark aside from Dawkins and the three centers. He's mostly a drive-and-dish guy without much dish at the moment, but he's showed some signs he could be more on Saturday; after opening the season 3/13 from three, he buried 3/4 attempts against Delaware State. Granted, those shots were great looks, but Rahk looked more confident in his stroke than he has in the past. It'd be critical to M's spacing for him to be more of a three-point threat.

Irvin rounding into form... except in one critical area. Largely unnoticed during the tumultuous start to the season has been Zak Irvin's continued improvement in the Not Just A Shooter™ aspects of his game. He's making 57% of his shots inside the arc and has 31 assists against nine turnovers; he's become a legitimate drive-and-dish guy.

Unfortunately, Irvin's shot appears broken; after going 0/3 from deep on Saturday, he's now 7/38 on the season. Needless to say, he has to figure out what's wrong and correct it if Michigan wants to bounce back from their recent ugly stretch and push for a tournament spot.

Speaking of that recent stretch, it's a little early to write Michigan off considering how well their recent competition has done:

It's a similar story on KenPom: Xavier is 9th, SMU is 20th, and UConn is 26th. Michigan doesn't have a true signature win—Texas is 43rd on KP—but unless the very unexpected happens over the course of the next three games, they'll get through non-conference play without anything approaching a bad loss, which is a lot more than most of the Big Ten can say.