MSU 54, M 42

Submitted by Tim on February 11th, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Throughout the first half of last night's game, the familiar thought crept up in the minds of Michigan fans: "If the offense just gets going, we've got this game." As per the script throughout much of this year, the offense never picked up enough for the Wolverines to steal a game against the #1 team in the Big Ten.

Michigan finished the first half with 15 points, something Brent Musberger and Steve Lavin continually pointed out during the second half. What they were neglecting to mention, however, was that this anemic offensive output only had Michigan down 10 points. The Spartans had only scored 15 themselves, and we hardly threatening to run away with the game.

The Wolverines performed admirably, despite giving up a lot of size to the Spartans. It's easy to see where this team will become a great one in the future as Ben Cronin, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan appear on the scene. This team might not be good enough to make it into the tournament, but losing CJ Lee, David Merritt, and Jevohn Shepherd while adding good size and a 4-star point guard bodes well for the future.

Zack Gibson remains a frustrating player. He has flashes of absolute brilliance, followed by shocking incompetence (especially on the defensive end of the floor). Manny also had a rough game, and had trouble getting to the line. The Wolverines were also an uncharacteristic 6-11 from the line, something you can't do against a rival - particularly when you're the best foul shooting team in the conference.

Michigan next faces Northwestern in Evanston Sunday. The Wolverines dominated the Crisler half of the home-and-home, and with tournament hopes dwindling, nearly every contest is a must-win from here on out.

The author's work normally appears on his own site, Varsity Blue.



February 11th, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

Sorry to nitpick, but actually Musburger specifically mentioned that it is amazing that Michigan had only scored 15 points and was only down by 10.

I disagree with your comment about Gibson. I thought he played extremely well this game, and managed to put up some points and make great plays when they were at a premium. He would be way down my list if we were calling out players in that game.

Re: foul shots, agreed. I can't believe Manny missed his early on.

Let's go blue! Beat Northwestern!


February 11th, 2009 at 3:19 PM ^

I agree Michigan has performed well despite being very small compared to their opponents. Sims plays much taller than he is and I agree w/ your assessment of Gibson. Is it just me or does it seem like Manny cannot buy a foul in the lane all year? He does not seem to get calls when going to the rim. I do not know if this prevents him from driving as often as he should or it is due to him turning the ball over as he drives to the hoop somewhat frequently.

Also, I think Sat. is a must win against Northwestern. Currently sitting at 15-10 we will say the Wolverines have to win at NW and at Iowa. They need to win 1 out of Wisc. on the road and the home and home w/ Minn. Lastly we say they lose to Purdue finishing out the regular season 18-13. They go onto win two games in the Big ten tourney to finish the season 20-14 w/ wins over UCLA, Duke, Illinois, and Penn State (Maybe Minn.) in terms of tournament teams. I would think that might be good enough to get into the tournament. Thoughts?


February 11th, 2009 at 3:45 PM ^

I'm not sure they need to win 20 because the number of mid-major bubble teams (which tend to be the bane of sub-20 win teams) simply isn't that strong this year. Sure, 20 wins gets them into the tournament, but I think 18 or 19, depending on who they are against, might squeak UM into the field.

Yinka Double Dare

February 11th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

Michigan needs to get to .500 in conference and win their opening conference tourney game against Indiana or Iowa (if we finish .500 in conference, we'll probably be the 6 or maybe 7), which happens to be 20 wins.

20 wins with us 8-10 in conference doesn't get us to the tourney though I don't think. If we go 8-10 in the conference, I think we probably need to make it to the conference tourney finals (which would make our overall record in conference, should they lose in the final, 11-11). The committee usually hates taking teams the finished below .500 in conference unless the conference is crazy strong. Our only shot at making it as 8-10 in conference w/o a long run in the conference tourney was beating UConn.

Need to win the next three, and then while beating any of the last three would get us to .500 in conference, I'd prefer it be one of the road games if I had to choose instead of the home game against Purdue. Even though Purdue is a better team, a roady at Minnesota would probably be better on the resume. We haven't beaten anyone of substance on the road, and that's a hole on the resume. But I think a win in any of the 3 would probably be good enough as long as they don't honk their conference tourney opener against one of the basement dwellers.

Winning two of the next three only puts them in the brutal position of having to take 2 of 3 of Purdue, @Wisco and @Minn. Unlikely unless our shooting makes a sudden turnaround.


February 11th, 2009 at 3:26 PM ^

I kept thinking about how idiotic it is to schedule a tough non-conference game (away) in the middle of the conference schedule.

Penn State on Thursday, then UConn 2 days later (Sat), then MSU 3 days later (Tues).



February 11th, 2009 at 10:50 PM ^

The games being that close together is probably the bigger problem. Scheduling big non-conference games, even during conference season, is a good thing. Playing three games in six days, with two being at #1 and hosting a major rival, is a recipe for trouble.

marco dane

February 11th, 2009 at 3:27 PM ^

must have kicked in when he saw Izzo.

Can anybody tell me anyone as annoying announcing a game as Brent? Just seems to me certain coaches he can't get enough of talking about. If it isn't JoePa then its Izzo. If it isn't Bowden,then its Pretty Rick. If it isn't Petey Carrol then he's talking about...whomever.

I wish he would just do his job and keep his love affair with certain coaches private.


February 11th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

He is the worst announcer I have ever seen. Musberger and Steve Lavin (who I normally like) were seemingly constantly berating Michigan, remarking how lucky they were to still be in the game, assuring us that the Spartans would kick their offense into gear and blow Michigan out, and neglecting to mention how good Michigan's defense was. Musbereger is not my favorite announcer in college football (Kirk Herbstreit too?? oh no!) either. I actually checked how long it took him to take a jab at Michigan during a USC-Notre Dame game and it was 30 seconds before he remarked how bad it was to let RoJo slip away from Michigan.

Get bent, Brent.


February 11th, 2009 at 3:58 PM ^

Nothing that Musberger & Lavin said last night was out of line. Michigan was, indeed, lucky that Sparty didn't roll them. That was one of the worst offensive performances that I've ever seen in a college basketball game last night.

marco dane

February 11th, 2009 at 4:55 PM ^

you miss the BE & Tommy A era...that was some of the worst offensive basketball ever PLAYED by Michigan teams.

I believe the team was coming off a physical game,with the vast majority of the team hitting a wall. The last eight games have a common theme...lack of big men in the paint contesting more physical,taller and finesse frontlines and treys simply not falling when the game was on the line. With the Big Two,Manny and Peedie,having gone through somewhat a scoring drought dosen't help neither. Remember who we have starting at pg and who comes off the bench at that position. This squad has two walkons who figure heavy in the rotation along with a super soph and two frosh. Next year will be a COMPELETLY different story with the incoming recruits,more frontline help and a better shooting squad along with Manny,Peedie and the frosh one year better acquainted with the system.

I wasn't thoroughly impress with sparty last night...only because like you mention...they should have rolled us. If Roe hadn't gotten over half his point with a shorter/smaller baller on him...the game would have been a toss-up!


February 11th, 2009 at 4:53 PM ^

Regardless of whether he's biased against M or whether any specific criticisms of M were "out of line," I agree that the guy is terrible -- particularly in basketball, though not much better in football. The false enthusiasm, the belaboring of points (often inaccurate, at that), focusing on other things (e.g. love of this or that coach) to the exclusion of the game actually going on in front of him (and Herbstreit only exacerbates this tendency) -- I could go on and on, but then I'd be fairly accused of being Musburger-esque.

He actually makes me root for the Big Ten network to cover more of our games . . . .


February 11th, 2009 at 5:47 PM ^

Man, am I glad I WENT to the game rather than having to stomach Brent calling it on TV. It was agonizing enough to lose to Sparty on a night we coulda stollen it from them with a few more made shots. But I think I woulda been suicidal listening to him on top of that. Yikes.


February 11th, 2009 at 3:50 PM ^

The only thing getting them into the NCAA is winning the conf tournament, and the only thing that will get them there is to become what they're not: a decent shooting team. Look at the stats: last in the B10 in FG % and last in the B10 in 3-pt %. Which is exactly the same as they ended up last year in the conf. Being a lousy-shooting team will be a problem for anybody, but to be that way in Beilein's offense is especially problematic.


February 11th, 2009 at 4:37 PM ^

cj lee playing 68 minutes in last 2 games and scoring 2 points with 7 assists and 5 turnovers is not gonna cut it.

jb has either decided to use lee's intensity as a teaching tool or he has gone insane.

there is something wrong with lee taking 4 shots and douglas taking 2.what is jb thinking? pass the ball for 30 seconds and give ur shooters 5 seconds to set up for a jump shot.sounds familiar?remember ta. I am pissed. where r the game adjustments? is this against jb's coaching philosophy?

it was obvious what izzo's defensive plan was after 5 minutes...take manny out of the offense with a tight man to man and help from lee's defender and novack's defender(I know and u know where novack hangs out), hang tight on stu,put 1 on 1 against sims and gibson. sims had his way all is not goddamn rocket science, take what they give and do not force it.

with perry, novack and lee on the court it is 2 on 5 offensively.harris does not have a chance. this is the same defense that conn.,ohio st.,purdue, wisconsin,and mich. st. have run. stop harris and michigan will fail.

this is insanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


February 11th, 2009 at 11:54 PM ^

One thing working in UM's favor for the tourney is the Big Ten's RPI - they are something like the 2nd or 3rd rated conference in country.

MSU is a lock for the tourney and barring late season collapses, I think OSU, Purdue, Illinois and Minny probably get in. I think the big ten might be able to get 6 teams in, and depending on how some teams finish maybe 7. That means Wisky, PSU and UM are battling it out for maybe 1 and a big if, maybe 2, more spots in the tourney.

It's kind of interesting in that Amakers teams seemed to be in a similiar position a few times - on the bubble coming down the stretch only to stumble. It'll be interesting to see how this team does the last few weeks.


February 12th, 2009 at 8:56 AM ^

I think we could pull off the next 4 and coupled with a first round win we'll make it in as a 10 or 11 seed and given the fact that it won't be against a big Ten team (the tourney game) I think we could really do some damage against teams who are unfamiliar with the zone. Although I might take a loss to purdue with a win against wisconsin just so we don't end with 2 straight losses. Anyway - I don't get all the gloom and doom on here - it hurt that the dukies lost to UNC last night but I still think our RPI and the conference RPI is high enough that we can get by w/ 20 wins (9-9, 10-10 total including the tournament).

The biggest difference between this team and TA's teams is that this team has shown not only can it hang with the big boys but it can beat them. I mean, they gave UConn their toughest game in, what, weeks?