Lehman Brothers

Submitted by Brian on January 21st, 2009 at 11:42 AM

1/20/2009 – Michigan 58, Penn State 73 – 13-6, 3-4 Big Ten


How's this for some trenchant analysis you can't get anywhere else: that was brutal. Let us never discuss it again.

Moving forward, the last two games have blown whatever margin of error Michigan had in their effort to make the tournament. Even if you assume wins home and away against Northwestern and away against Iowa—potentially dodgy but absolutely necessary to make the tourney—you have to find three wins in these games to get Michigan to .500 in conference:

Home: Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue
Away: Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota

Is that doable? I don't know anymore. Maybe they can split with Minnesota and beat Penn State and home. Then it's a matter of getting really hot in one other game and stealing it. It won't happen when the team shoots 2 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half. Would that get Michigan in? If they beat UConn, obviously. If they don't that leaves them at 19-12 and fifth or sixth in the #2 league in the country, so yeah.

I guess the question is: will the team shoot as horribly as they have in the future? There's no chance they all grow three inches by Tuesday, and even if they did that would probably throw off their coordination significantly. You're going to see Michigan continue to get crushed defensively. Against Illinois (and, I guess, Ohio State) Michigan was overwhelmed by height that took away their inside game—Sims, their inside game, was 7 for 27. Against Penn State they weren't overwhelmed by height and still got crushed in the paint and on the offensive glass. This is the Beilein system taken to extremes, and that's understandable given the composition of the team. This was expected to be an NIT team for a reason.

I've been beating this drum since the Indiana game: it's been clear for a while now that the Duke and UCLA wins raised the profile of and expectations for the team disproportionately. Struggles against a wide array of very bad teams and near-implosions against Indiana and Savannah State didn't have the same impact because "a win is a win"* and all that, leading to a lot of irrational exuberance.

Welcome to the crash.


  • UMHoops: "The numbers don’t lie, Michigan shot 39.3% from the field and 16.7% from behind the arc tonight. Michigan has shot over 40% just twice in the last 10 games after shooting over 40% in 7 of their first 8 (the only game under 40% was the win over UCLA).  At the end of the day winning basketball games comes down to making your shots. It doesn’t matter whether they are two point shots or three point shots; an open shot is an open shot."
  • Beilein: “We had some great looks early, couldn’t hit any of them, and had a chance to get out early enough on them because we played good defense on them early. But we couldn’t make any shots. Once they got it going in the second half it was lights out.”


  • Don't really have much other than "yeeaaargh" on this one.
  • I would like to point out that everyone would take this if magically given the option at the start of the year. I was hoping for slightly above .500 and an NIT bid, and that was before it became clear the Big Ten is way, way better than it was last year.
  • I want Manny Harris to commit a charge per half the rest of the season.

*(For the past, yes. For the future, no: past performance is a better predictor of future performance than past results.)



January 21st, 2009 at 1:06 PM ^

The top teams in the Big East are probably better than the top teams in the Big Ten, but the Big East has a lot more "easy wins" on the schedule than the Big Ten does. Going by Pomeroy's rankings, none of the bottom six in the Big East would finish ahead of anyone but Indiana (and Providence would be in a dead heat with Iowa for 10th), and four would be dead last in the ACC.

It's worth noting that both the conference RPI and Sagarin put the Big Ten ahead of the Big East.


January 21st, 2009 at 12:37 PM ^

cant assume a win at NWU anymore. They looked good agaisnt Purdue and Minn at home. Its kinda like assuming we'd beat Purdue in football. Agree, The Big East and ACC are both better than Big Ten this year.


January 21st, 2009 at 2:09 PM ^

She has decent features...a lather of make up and everyone would think they are a stud for plowing those fields...she looks like she plays it natural so you young dudes may need a mower 1st I'm assuming you guys are used to a landing strip or a Kojak look.

Sgt. Wolverine

January 21st, 2009 at 2:26 PM ^

"I guess the question is: will the team shoot as horribly as they have in the future? "

Does this mean they're shooting horribly in the future? Because that's even more depressing. If you can see into the future, couldn't you tell us something good to cheer us up?