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.


UM Indy

December 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 PM ^

So have we swung back to cautious optimism with this team? There really are a lot of weapons and the pure shooting talent is amazing. Will there be enough defense and contribution from the 5 spot to make a run at a conference championship? I'll be interested to see it play out. Merry Christmas!

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Bertello NC

December 24th, 2015 at 11:45 AM ^

Very true. But.....you still need competence at 4/5. Doyle/Donnal/Wagner/Wilson have a long way to go to get to McGary/Morgan/Horford type production. Having a C or PF that can get some garbage points, grab some rebounds, and block a shot or two, maximizes the room for error with a perimeter oriented team. Allows you to keep pace scoring points when outside shots aren't falling. Balance is key IMO. That's what is making MSU so good this year is improved shooting to go along with their front court players. And senior leadership and good to great guard play. Take Denzel away and they still manage to get a W. Now we'll see how that continues to play out but take Walton or Levert away I'm not very confident that we have the strength in other areas of the roster to make up for that level of loss.

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December 23rd, 2015 at 10:42 PM ^

haven't lost to any bad teams, but each loss was pretty bad; overmatched in each of those games.  hopefully, the team is rounding into form now though.  continued solid play out of irvin could be the difference between a decent season and a very good one.

snarling wolverine

December 24th, 2015 at 11:00 AM ^

It's a little different in basketball.  There is more variance from game to game.  Even a great team can have a night where nothing's falling and they get killed.  The selection committee doesn't pay attention to score margins, just the game result.

Beilein's teams, moreover, are often particularly high-variance due to their perimeter-oriented style of play.  Consider our two conference championship teams under Beilein.  Our 2013-14 team, which went 15-3 in Big Ten play, suffered all three losses by double digits. Our BTT loss was also lopsided.

Likewise our 2011-12 team, which went 13-5, lost four of those five by double digits, and got blown out in the BTT.




December 24th, 2015 at 3:04 PM ^

but I haven't closed the book on him yet. He is in his second year of playing (out of his natural position) and is still developing. His last two games have been much improved. Last night he played with confidence, hustle and energy. And at the moment, he is out playing Wagner and rightfully taking some of his minutes. 

I am hoping and expecting that they will both continue to improve through out the season.


December 23rd, 2015 at 10:57 PM ^

I think it's safe to say on any given night we could beat anybody, but when we aren't hitting we don't have the defense or the player to take over and lead us through.


December 24th, 2015 at 9:08 AM ^

optimistic for this team...Wins over really bad teams mean nothing...Im very concerned about the defensive effort...IF they can win on the road at Illinois I might begin to feel differently but winning on the road in BIG has been a challenge lately...


December 24th, 2015 at 9:28 AM ^

The formula for this team is pretty evident: hit shots and play the hot hand at the 5. They'll definitely be in the hunt for the B1G Ten Championship and Sweet Sixteen. A ton of talent on this squad. Once Irvin is fully back they'll be humming.


December 24th, 2015 at 10:53 AM ^

they had a stretch of games against lower-tier opponents, especially after some difficult games before that. It helped their record, and I think when the strength of schedule is looked at later in the season, Michigan's SOS will be pretty decent.


December 24th, 2015 at 3:28 PM ^

The Big Ten is historically a very good basketball conference so I think anything .500 or above will get us in the NCAA tournament.  Let's face it, we have looked far from world beaters during the non-conference schedule so maybe a .500 record isn't that bad.  We all know we have issues with our inside game which will likely be further exposed in conference play.  To have a conference record above .500 we will need Walton to play up to his potential and Irvin to play way better than he did during the non-conference schedule.  We also need a couple of these bigs to start showing more heart and aggressiveness if we expect to compete against teams like MSU, Maryland and Purdue.  We will also most likely be underdogs against Iowa, Indiana and Northwestern since these teams are ranked higher than UM...and wins are not guaranteed against OSU and Wisconsin. Given everything, I'm not so sure a .500 conference record would be a bad thing.


December 24th, 2015 at 4:43 PM ^

about this game.  Obviously if our shots are falling we'll beat anyone but this is pretty much the case for any team.  The important thing is what we do when they aren't falling.  Just taking more threes (which is what we tend to do) does absolutely nothing, but taking smarter, closer shots does help.  Also, our defense doesn't bother me that much. Our D was ranked 48th when we went to the National Championship and 108th when we went to the Elite Eight.  If our offense keeps coming around we'll be beating teams that way.  If people keep complaining about D you will get nowhere, Beilein's teams are always terrible at D.  This team and the Elite Eight team are pretty damn similar.  That team was probably better but not by much.  I'm still confident of where this team can go.  

Our post position sucks but it always has except McGary who was the type of player who comes around once every ten years, if that.  JMo was solid but he was terrible his freshman and sophmore year which is where all of these guys are.  Even his Junior and Senior year he could only play D and that was it.  I still think we can put the ball in to Doyle more and let him try to work something once every eight plays or so.  His jump hook is solid. We go into every game thinking our bigs can't do anything which is part of the problem. They are bogus right now but if we don't give them tries they will continue to suck.  At least we smoked every team we were supposed and had solid wins with NC State and Texas.  At this point there is no way we were going to beat Xavier or SMU, those are both possible final four teams.  There is one game this entire year that we should have won but didn't and that was UConn.  You can't ask for much more than just one game that didn't go the way it should have.


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