Michigan 58, Northwestern 47

Submitted by Ace on January 29th, 2018 at 9:48 PM


After a slow start, Michigan eventually ran away from Northwestern. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

In a game that will be memorable only for being forgettable, Michigan slowly pulled away from Northwestern after a close, repulsive first half.

The Wildcats inched their way out to an early nine-point lead by hitting the occasional shot while the Wolverines were completely befuddled by Northwestern's matchup zone, choosing mostly to shoot over it to no avail. Michigan scored only five points in the game's first ten minutes. They went 3-for-15 on three-pointers in the opening stanza with two of those makes coming in a late 10-0 run to close the half.

Northwestern couldn't capitalize, however, because Michigan's defense was every bit as stingy. After a quick start, they scored five points over the final 13 minutes of the half, including a seven-minute scoreless stretch to end it.

Given halftime to adjust, John Beilein's squad figured out the zone, scoring 1.19 point per possession in the second half. Charles Matthews repeatedly cut to wide open space on the baseline, finishing with a team-high 14 points on 11 shots with seven rebounds and three steals. Great ball movement led to 4-for-10 three-point shooting on a series of wide-open looks.


While Michigan warmed up, Northwestern struggled to get good looks. [Campredon]

Unlike their foe, Michigan held up on defense, keeping Northwestern well below a point per possession with turnovers on over a quarter of them for the second straight half. Over the whole game, they held the Wildcats to their third-worst offensive performance of the season.

Michigan won comfortably with a balanced attack. Five players finished with at least eight points, including the increasingly used backcourt duo of Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman and Jordan Poole; both also dished out three assists apiece with no turnovers, and Poole whipped around some really impressive passes that didn't immediately lead to buckets. (Related: we'll see that backcourt more in certain late-game situations.) Moe Wagner scored all eight of points in the second half and did strong work on the boards all evening; Jon Teske, meanwhile, grabbed five rebounds in just 11 minutes.

After the initial zone adjustment period, there were only two major downsides. While Duncan Robinson managed to sneak into the gaps for eight points, he missed all six of his threes despite some really good looks. Then, in the game's final moments, Zavier Simpson took a hard shot to the back when Isaiah Livers failed to alert him to Dererk Pardon's oncoming screen. Simpson spent a possession down at midcourt before eventually walking off; he was in obvious pain on the bench, but hopefully it's not something that lingers.

At 7-4 in the Big Ten, Michigan moves into a tie for fourth place with Nebraska. They get the rest of the week to prepare for a plummeting Minnesota squad to come to Crisler on Saturday afternoon.

[Hit THE JUMP for a few more of MG's photos and the box score.]

Comments

Wolverheel

January 30th, 2018 at 2:04 AM ^

I'm glad some mgoblog writers' insistance on expanding the Maize rage isn't something that is happening, the lower bowl section next to the band was about 1/3 full at tipoff and barely filled up for the rest of the game. Unless we want the constantly empty since 2015 upper deck student seating to be more prominantly placed on TV I think we're fine where we are.

corundum

January 29th, 2018 at 9:57 PM ^

Bill Raftery is a national treasure. His postgame interview with Matthews when he asked him about encountering a very large man under the hoop in their previous game was hilarious.

TrueBlue2003

January 29th, 2018 at 11:41 PM ^

but he is a fun commentator. Love his energy and all his sayings.  And he's a GREAT post-game interview.

But his knowledge is amongst the worst by color guys on TV though. He's not really breaking down anything interesting.  He and Brando were brutal talking about how befuddled we were by their defense.  Granted, I didn't see the first 8 min, and maybe we were befuddled then, but I saw us have a wide open three basically whenever we wanted it and we just missed a ton of them.

Announcers carried through a bad narrative when the only difference I saw from the first to second half was us making some of those easy shots.

ijohnb

January 30th, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

is very knowledgeable, he just doesn't feel the need to overwhelm viewers with his knowledge.  He coached for 10 years at Seton Hall and coached basketball altogether for nearly 20 years.  He knows a whole lot about college basketball, personnel, X's and O's, the whole deal, but knows that most viewers don't want to hear a steady stream of that stuff during a game.  Some play-by-play, Bilas among them, could learn a little bit about toning down "knowledge" from Raftery.

And the overload of the right side of the floor was a real thing.  For most of the second half we had three shooters and a post on that side of the floor to overload the perimeter matchup defenders.  Collins did not adjust it until nearly 10 minutes were gone in the second half and by the time that he did Beilein was already playing the next hand and started exploiting the baseline on the other side.

Also, that game was super-boring.  The announcers had to talk about something and they were not being given a whole lot.

TrueBlue2003

January 30th, 2018 at 1:11 PM ^

former coach and longtime color analyst, highly popular, known for energy and catchphrases.

Whether he is very knowledgeable or not, the fact that he doesn't demonstrate it on air is what I'm talking about.  Fine that he dumbs it down for the average fan and that helps make him popular. But you are admittind that he demonstrates less knowledge relative to other analysts.

And for the record, I actually like him a lot.  For some reason I love his energy and catchphrases (when I found Madden's annoying).  But I rarely if ever learn anything new when watching games he calls.  Bilas is a biased arrogant jerk but he is relatively knowledgable and I learn things when watching him (still rather watch Raftery, because you're right, Bilas comes across as a know-it-all).

Raftery last coached almost 40 years ago. This was well before the NCAA even adopted the 3pt line.  The game has changed tremendously since then.  And yes, he's watched a lot of basketball and kept up on some of the changes but I'm not sure how you can assume he's very knowledgeable about the modern game (again relative to other analysts) when he doesn't really demonstrate it.  He might be.  But we have no evidence of it.

Also, the game was boring from a shot-making perspective, but there was a lot of strategy happening: Collins coming out in a zone which is rare against Michigan, Michigan first struggling against it, then making adjustments, etc.  There could have been a lot to unpack for an analyst.  If there isn't a lot of shot-making to talk about for the casual fan, why not get into the X's and O's for the more knowledgeable fan rather than continue trumpeting the trope about a zone befuddling Michigan as they were getting wide open three after wide open three?

fishgoblue1

January 30th, 2018 at 2:05 PM ^

The offense that UM was running in the 2nd half was completely different from the first half.  They were overloading one side of the floor to force the zone to that side with wide open looks on the other side.  Also they would dibble drive a lot in the 2nd half to create open shots, that the were not doing in the first half.  All of which Raftery covered during the game.

bronxblue

January 29th, 2018 at 9:57 PM ^

Michigan can credibly rely on their defense to keep games close, rebound at a near-elite level, struggle at the foul line, and are just an average team from outside the arc.

2018 is weird, guys.

TrueBlue2003

January 30th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

the box score.  His job is to play good defense keep his man off the boards and let everyone else do the scoring.

That said, I didn't see the beginning of the game, so I only saw him play like 6 minutes. My guess for Robinson getting so much run is that

1) Northwestern was running a zone which forces you to run a completely different offense.  Robinson looked like he had a better grasp of the zone offense, as one would expect from 5th year senior, and got himself open easily..alas, he couldn't hit any of his threes.

2) Coaches don't know that a guy is going to go 0-6 before he does.  Beilein saw zone and figured he'd get his 3pt shooter on the floor with lots of experience against a zone and he got himself tons of open threes.  In Beilein's mind, the next one was always going down.  If the dealer has a 6 showing, you stay on 16 even if you lost the last six times that happened.  You stick with the odds.

3) This was a good defensive matchup for Duncan.  Northwestern is very bad at offense, they don't have anyone that is very dangerous off the dribble so for Duncan to check Skelly and Falzon worked fine and there was no one that could kill him on a switch.

Good game to get Duncan some minutes and let Livers watch what to do against a zone (and he did hit his only shot).

Indy Pete - Go Blue

January 29th, 2018 at 10:40 PM ^

And he got plenty of open looks; kind of fluky to miss all of them.  Coach B essentially said the same.  Also, Duncan played hard on D and actually had much more success defending the post.  Livers will get the big minutes against more athletic man to man defenses, but this game was a chance for Duncan to make a big difference with his threes. (Alas, he was 0-6 from 3 and Livers was 1-1, so what do I know?)

Indy Pete - Go Blue

January 29th, 2018 at 10:03 PM ^

Good win with a great defensive effort. This team can win ugly. Our defense allows us to compete in any game at this point. Matthews is sooo long and athletic. Z is ridiculously quick. Poole and Livers are athletic and quick. Mo has improved his positioning and defensive rebounding. The big sleep is a force. MAAR is a glove. Even Duncan is working his tail off and improving his defensive positioning. Blue collar win, go blue! (Thanks Maverick)

Indy Pete - Go Blue

January 30th, 2018 at 12:12 AM ^

Jon Teske, aka big sleep, aka, big nasty (per coaches trying to do some social engineering).  Whatever we call him, the kid can play!  I love the way he continues to improve.  His finish off the glass looked a bit like Haas.  Jon is a talented kid gifted with a huge frame.  He will be a very key role to helping us compete for next year's B1G title!

bronxblue

January 29th, 2018 at 10:05 PM ^

Also, let us not forget that Minnesota also had it's own terrible handling of multiple sexual assaults by both their football and basketball teams, so that's going to be a nice reminder that the world is terrible and we should all feel bad.

champswest

January 29th, 2018 at 10:16 PM ^

including no rebounds. I think Beilein thought Duncan would help with 3s against their zone. That didn’t work out, but I thought Robinson played a good game.

I was impressed with the rebounding effort from Wagner, Teske and Matthews. Perhaps the difference in the game was the turnover margin.

WolverineHistorian

January 29th, 2018 at 10:15 PM ^

Repulsive first half is a common trend this season. UCLA, Illinois, Purdue, Maryland, Nebraska, Rutgers (kind of) and tonight. The opponent comes out on fire and we have to wait until there's about 6 minutes left until halftime where we finally start to get our act together....except for Nebraska, and Purdue is just freakishly talented. But those other squads? Why do they play like crap against everyone else and then suddenly turn into these machines when Michigan is the opponent? They don't have the talent to keep it up all game but they make it incredibly stressful in the meantime.

I'm happy with a win even though it was ugly as sin. But I am really, REALLY not looking forward to going to Northwestern's little high school gym next week. We all know what happened last year. And two years ago, they sunk about 10 miracle 3's in a double overtime loss for us.

Go blue....but oh so stressful.