Sometimes I don't have a column. In these times: just bullets.
12/8/2018 – Michigan 89, South Carolina 78 – 10-0
A sloppy outing ends in an eleven point win as Michigan is clearly better, so that's nice. Items:
The un-Michigan game. Michigan 1) rebounded almost half their misses, 2) turned it over 16 times, 3) made 77% of their free throws, and allowed the bricklayers on the other team to shoot 53% from two. This was very un-Dude. Certain things did make sense in the recent history of Michigan basketball. South Carolina got up just 11 threes, didn't go to the line much, and Michigan burned the nets themselves.
The New York Football Knicks. Man, when South Carolina commits a foul it is not subtle. Iggy got flying shoulder thumps immediately preceding most of his FTAs. Michigan hit the bonus with about 12 minutes left in the second half and that felt late. In the first half I kept looking up at the scoreboard to see which South Carolina player had just earned an autobenching only to find out that Martin was rotating his guys so thoroughly that none of the hacking removed key players for long stretches. Both Alanzo Frink and Felipe Haase had three fouls in about ten minutes. Silva fouled out late; five other guys had two fouls.
Jon Teske got some back when he trucked Silva:
That was deemed a charge; at least Teske got his money's worth.
Illuminati Charles Matthews. Matthews was 2/4 from two, 2/4 from three, 2/4 from the line, and had 2 DREBs and 4 OREBs. Spooooooky.
The defense slowly comes back to earth. Michigan's early two-point D was always going to be unsustainable and things are creeping back up. The good news is that folks are still posting items about Michigan's defense in relation to some of the best in the last decade of college basketball; the bad news is that Michigan's regressing back towards the mean faster than those defenses:
Michigan’s defense may end up relatively normal (in historical terms) after all. Then again, UM's been amazing at either offense *or* D in literally every game, except @ Northwestern. Very Beilein-y. pic.twitter.com/4HJo5f8Kma
— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) December 9, 2018
All of those teams had giant block rates. The only reason all three didn't finish first is that 2015 Texas (20%!) beat out 2015 Kentucky (18.2). Last year's MSU (18.5) team had Jaren Jackson (sometimes) and also finished first. Michigan is currently 115th—not bad, but not a number that is going to see you finish the season with a historically good two-point D.
Even if the absurd two-point D was a bit of a mirage, Michigan's D is still very very good in a sustainable fashion. They're forcing more "other twos" than anyone other than San Diego. They're 9th in the country at preventing threes from getting up, and are still top 50 at preventing the opponent from getting to the rim. Teske may not be a super elite shotblocking center but he's also averaging just 3.3 fouls/40, which is a major part of Michigan's #1 ranking in free throw rate allowed.
Michigan is going to be a very good defense. They probably aren't going to be #1 at the end of the year. If they are it's going to be because they're pretty good at two point D and funnel everyone inside the line.
[After THE JUMP: on the other hand this is still a Beilein team.]