Submitted by Brian on January 19th, 2018 at 11:20 AM

1/18/2018 – Michigan 52, Nebraska 72 – 16-5, 5-3 Big Ten



A proper kick in the nads, that was. The only good thing about it was I can deploy "nads" and reminisce about those middle school days that... were completely horrible, as all middle school days are. Nevermind. But "nads" is a zesty word all the same. Nads. Nads. Aching nads. And so forth and so on.

Nebraska switched everything and it went better for them than it did for Purdue last week. Wagner was unable to get a shot up despite being checked by Punky Brewster for large sections of the game, and the pull-up in-your-face threes that Michigan used to close their second half gap against the Boilers never materialized. Instead, many many turnovers as Michigan tried to drive. The Daily:

“They switched everything. On every screen,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “Roby allows them to do that. I don’t know if it would be successful with the big guys, but that’s a thing we’re going to see again from many teams. And we saw it actually all at the end of last year, and we’ve got to continue to develop what we do in that situation.”

Last season, the play had a more obvious solution. The Wolverines had Derrick Walton Jr., who could simply blow by a bigger defender, often making them look silly along the way. This year’s team has yet to find somebody who can make those plays consistently.

That latter point was driven home when Michigan, desperate for anything resembling offense, went with a MAAR-Poole backcourt for much of the second half. Zavier Simpson's offensive renaissance came to a screeching halt—one three pointer after an offensive rebound scramble and nothing else. Last year, the power mushroom version of Derrick Walton would have eviscerated that. This year, not so much.

The weaknesses Michigan had seemingly developed their way out of clawed their way back to the surface, except even the weaker version of this team from earlier in the year didn't gift wrap ten first-half points with open court turnovers. Nobody's transition defense is good in a two-on-one situation. Add it all up and it's a tender morning in Nadslandia. The land of nads.

Hopefully Michigan can trundle through Rutgers at home to finish up this stupid-ass part of the schedule—thanks, Delany—and then get a proper rest, during which they can spend all their time prepping for what happens when all screens get switched. Because that is what they will see until they can beat it.


snarling wolverine

January 19th, 2018 at 11:27 AM ^

Is it Delany's New York fetish that is causing the cramped schedule, or is it the new TV deal?

If it's just because of the BTT being moved up a week, shouldn't the week of games in December have solved that without requiring all these quick turnarounds?  I'm wondering if this is actually just because Fox (or rather FS1) wants Monday B1G programming.  If so we're probably going to have schedules like this going forward. 

(I guess either way it comes down to Delany, since he signed the deal.)


January 19th, 2018 at 11:53 AM ^

It's Delany's fetish for MSG that's causing all this. Look at last year's schedule which was a traditional Big Ten slate.

Michigan started off playing on:

Sunday, January 1st

Wednesday, January 4th

Saturday, January 7th

Then, for the rest of the year it was two games a week (some combination of Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday-Saturday/Sunday). Any Thursday game was combined with a Sunday game. Outside of the BTT, the closest last year's schedule came to this 3 games-in-6 nights, 4 games-in-9 nights stretch was that aforementioned schedule at the beginning and even that was 3-in-7 and 4-in 11. 

So, yea, thanks Delany. Also, Michigan went 1-3 in that stretch culminating in the Maverick Morgan game. It also wasn't an away-home-away-home cycle as Michigan went to Iowa, then spent a week+ in Ann Arbor before going to Champaign. 

The prior year featured no stretch like this one (every week was 2 games, some had just one). 

Also, it's not super shocking that a team that relies primarily on jump shooting and movement without the ball would be a little more susceptible to fatigue. 


January 19th, 2018 at 3:17 PM ^

For the past couple seasons, we've started the B1G season ten weekends before the usual BTT weekend.  This year, since the BTT is a week earlier but also we already played two games, re-starting nine weekends before the first weekend in March should have been enough to keep the usual schedule structure. 

That would have required us to start the B1G season on Dec 30-31 weekend.

This is two days before we started B1G play last year, which is caused by the NCAA being slightly early this year in the calendar (title game is April 2) and for whatever reason (not wanting to compete with bowl games?), we didn't start the weekend of the 30-31. We started on a Tuesday and hence lost a game and "made it up" this week by playing two weekday games.

EVEN STILL, part of it has to be TV as well.  There is usually a "bye" built into the B1G season (last year we played MSU on a weekend, didn't have a weekday game and then played OSU on a weekend), that could have been used to absorb the game we lost by starting half a week late.

Instead, we have a stretch when we play Sun Jan 21, Thursday Jan 25, don't play over the weekend but play Monday Jan 29 and then Sat Mar 3.  So we have only four games over that 2 week/3 weekend stretch.

If they gave us a typical weekend-weekday-weekend-weekday-weekend stretch of five games there, we could have avoided this stupid week.  So they definitely wanted to get us some Monday games for TV.  Needlessly crammed this week and spaced out that stretch of four games to get two Monday games when we could have kept a reasonable weekday-weekend cadence.

Blue Durham

January 19th, 2018 at 12:43 PM ^

cramped 4 game run ending with Rutgers this Sunday is all due to the NY tournament thing.

Each team tends to play 1 game during the week and 1 game during the weekend. After Rutgers on Sunday, Michigan plays at Purdue (Thursday), Northwestern (Monday - consider this the weekend game) and Minnesota (Saturday).

Thus, in the coming 2 weeks Michigan has a 3-game stretch where they would normally would play 4 games. I think that skipped game was inserted in during this 4-game stretch. The Maryland or Nebraska game probably should have been in between Northwestern and Minnesota.

So I really don't think this current cramped schedule is due to the BTT being moved up.


January 19th, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^

teams continue switching like that, Wagner ball screens need to initiate from closer to the baseline so he can quickly post the guard on the switch.  He abused Louisville last year on some switches. The top of the key ball screen will be tricky.  We will need the ball hanlder to be a threat to effectively drive and finish or get off a 3 in the split second during the switch.  This could mean more MAAR with the ball and more Duncan Robison on the floor for kickout off of penetration.  It may also mean a point guard who is more of a multiple threat to be able to both drive a big and finish.  None of our guys, aside from some scoops from Simpson, seem particularly equipped to do that.  We may end up seeing what Simmons can do afterall. 


January 19th, 2018 at 11:46 AM ^

This offense needs a proficient scoring pg in the worst way.  We look good when Simpson looks good, we don't when he doesn't.  Its pretty simple, the problem is we don't know if the last two weeks are more indicative of Simpson or the first month and last two games.


January 19th, 2018 at 5:04 PM ^

against Maryland, he was creating shots really well (and didn't turn the ball over).

During the stretch in which we bombed threes, he was responsible for getting most of the guys open.  Drove and dished to a wide up Livers who drew Poole's guy and he passed to Poole for the wide open 3, hockey assist: Z.  Pick and Pop to Wagner for 3, then a drive and kick to Robinson for 3 in three consecutive plays for nine points.


January 19th, 2018 at 12:32 PM ^

I think Simmons gets some look, assuming he does well enough in practice, with all the switching that is about to happen. He's a better frame and hopefully the agility to do what Walton did last year as these bigger slower defenders end up on him.

I've mentioned but it last night didn't effect me much. I'm not too worried, we'll be fine. I mean, I hope...but I think last night was Nebraska playing really well and us hitting a brick wall. We will "rebound". Mayne Sunday looks sluggish as well but we need to win that and then the guys can rest up and het back to a more normal schedule.

Duck you J. Delaney


January 19th, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

I feel like the mix up he had with Robinson was on Robinson though. Simmons was staying with his man, no reason to swicth that screen. Not sure what their rules are concerning those situations though.

But he does lose his man trying to help out occasionaly. But taht is in part a result of our defense not being great at keeping players out of the middle of the floor.

And also, even in an era where palming violations are virtually non-existant I am amazed that he has yet to be called for one.


January 19th, 2018 at 5:02 PM ^

the screen such that there was no reason for a switch.  The question is, were they switching everything? If so he shouldn't have even tried to get over the screen and should have stuck with the screener. Since Beilein gave Robinson the immediate hook and kept Simmons in the game, I assume it was Robinson's fault.  Could be wrong though.

Even if they weren't switching, Simmons has to be yelling, got it, got it, got it, as he beats the screen to tell Robinson to leave the hedge and get back to his man (Robinson can't be expected to watch for Simmons).  Might not have communicated it well enough.

Even if Simmons had switched onto Roby what are the odds that the guard who had the ball (who was then being guarded by Robinson) and Roby posting up on Simmons with inside position, would not have scored anyway?  Yes, there would have been some resistance but those are our two worst defenders both in mismatches.  It was basically over when Nebraska said, oh look at this over here!


January 19th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

I had hernia surgery last night and taped the game to watch this morning while recovering.  It was like going through the surgery all over again.  We were never really in this game and seems like the team lost focus, which is understandable after last week.  On to the next one! 

Steve in PA

January 19th, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

It was the perfect storm. The way to beat pack line is 3-point shooting. With tired legs shots were coming off front iron a lot. Couldn't go inside because the lane was clogged.

On defense, all the problems that existed were amplified because they were playing from behind.

Nothing you can do except focus on the next game.


January 19th, 2018 at 1:31 PM ^

Michigan also ran into a Nebraska team that somehow shot nearly 60% from the field, 50% from three, two huge outliers in performance.  Some of it was tired legs and poor defense, but the Cornhuskers were hitting some shots you just don't see go in, and so I'm actually a bit surprised Michigan kept it as close as they did until the end.  They've got winnable games the rest of the way out, assuming they figure out switching by the time they head to Purdue.  They won't win the conference title, but nothing about last night really changed my opinion about the team except that Simpson hasn't quite become a dominant offensive force.

L'Carpetron Do…

January 19th, 2018 at 1:50 PM ^

Michigan had a little spurt last night when they cut it from 17 to 12 in the 2nd half but even that took a while because Nebraska always answered.  Wagner and MAAR looked almost dead during this stretch.  But I thought to myself 'can they do it?  Nebraska is bound to get cold'.  But Nebraska would come down and take shot after shot and I would say 'that's not going in'.  And then they all did I said 'what the fuck?' after each one.  That damn team turned into the Golden State Warriors last night.  

snarling wolverine

January 19th, 2018 at 3:09 PM ^

That bad backcourt pass by Matthews early in the half seemed like an absolute momentum-killer.  We'd just cut the deficit to eight points early in the half (35-27 IIRC) and had gotten the rebound, and then he threw it right to a Nebraska guy for an easy layup that got the crowd right back in it.  It felt like we were never really in it again.  



January 19th, 2018 at 4:14 PM ^

season avg 2s (47 percent) and season average 3s (36 percent) they'd have made four fewer 2s and one fewer 3 for 11 fewer points.  Still would have been a comfortable win.  We were outplayed in every facet.  But yeah, it was a perfect storm of them playing well, and us playing like garbage.  And that's how you lose by 20.


January 19th, 2018 at 3:08 PM ^

Wagner was completely nullified by the opposition just putting a 4 on him. He can't post up someone who isnt much slower or smaller and he couldn't pick and pop either. Then on the other end he can't guard a 4. Wagner got exposed and we got out coached.


January 19th, 2018 at 4:05 PM ^

That could be, but it just seemed to me that we were just out of it as a team - lots of short shots, sluggish cuts to the basket (when we bothered to do so), lazy, telegraphed passes, etc.

I mean, we had Wagner posting up a point guard on a couple of occasions - surely something we could exploit - but he didn't seem to call for the ball and his teammates didn't see him.  



January 19th, 2018 at 4:15 PM ^

we were out of it, sluggish, played terribly.

But they did exploit a weakness for us: putting an athletic 4 on Wagner and switching screens.  Beilein mentioned it in the presser that teams did it at the end of last year (Purdue with Edwards, I think Minnesota with Murphy and others).  That's when we mostly just stopped playing Wagner. DJ afforded us the luxury of being able to do that, but Teske isn't quite there on the offensive end.


January 19th, 2018 at 3:21 PM ^

, slip screens, cutting after passing instead of screening, and also screening your own man are all ways to combat switching.

I trust coach has his preferences to beat this and is capable of solving it.

It just feels like there was NO WAY we were going to win that game no matter what we did.

Sometimes I think coach likes to let his team struggle and figure things out on their own in some trying situations earlier in year.

He has more vision, patience and trust than I do, thats for sure. Gotta love him for it. Seems to usually pay off in March.


January 19th, 2018 at 4:57 PM ^

Well put. Agree about Beilein letting things's not like he didn't know wtf was going on and isn't capable of in-game fixing. He knows they're fine and I think he knew there wasn't much of a chance last night the way the players were so sluggish. They will learn hard from last night. And when energy returns and fresher legs prevail we'll see them do well.


January 19th, 2018 at 4:56 PM ^

It's difficult to maintain the same mental focus for 4 games in 8 days especially if you have probably considered the first two games the difficult ones. Michigan made plenty of mistakes in all of those games and consistency in focus is clearly an issue for the team.

They just about avoided the let down vs Maryland but it then came all the heavier vs Nebraska. I almost expected it. Nebraska is exactly the sort of game where people get sloppy and half-ass stuff.