North Carolina 86, Michigan 71 Comment Count

Ace November 29th, 2017 at 9:47 PM

[game begins]

Oh man, this is awesome. Like that one half of the UCLA game.

Oh, now I remember the other half of that UCLA game.

Dick Vitale is going to talk about the Fab Five?

[hits mute button]

[awaits final score]

[Hit THE JUMP for actual notes and the box score.]

Okay fine some actual notes:

This was close until a brutal exchange. With UNC holding onto a 34-32 lead after a scorching start by both teams, Duncan Robinson blew a fast break layup off an unlikely Zavier Simpson save. UNC made a remarkable save of their own, Theo Pinson converted a layup on the other end, and the Tar Heels closed the half on a 22-8 run.

Then it was not close. Once the shooting gallery period ended, Michigan couldn't hang with Carolina. The defense was brutal; UNC scored 1.5 points per possession in the first half, then opened the second-half on a tear fueled by offensive rebounds. The final score would've been way worse if Carolina hadn't called off the starters midway through the second half while Beilein sent out a combination of starters and players fighting for rotation spots (Brent Hibbitts excepted, but hey, he was 1/1!).

Moe Wagner dominated. Wagner posted an efficient 20-9-3 performance and dominated when he had the ball in the post, showing deft footwork and patience on several of his finishes. His passing was also a bright spot. Nobody exactly stood out on defense tonight, but Wagner at least contributed a couple steals and a block while only committing one foul, staying on the floor for 34 minutes.

Charles Matthews came down to earth. While he finished with a half-decent scoring line of 12 points on 5/10 shooting, he took a couple bad shots that rightfully earned him a trip to the bench and turned the ball over four times. In a game Michigan really needed it, he had almost no impact on the glass. While he wasn't awful, M needed more.

Duncan Robinson... oof. In addition to making the #narrative-turning play, Robinson was clearly the worst defender in a terrible all-around defensive performance. He didn't make up for it on the other end, making 1-of-6 shots. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had a similarly brutal two-way performance, also going 1-for-6 with more than his fair share of defensive lapses.

Beilein gave Isaiah Livers an extended audition in the second half and the freshman did well with it, playing with energy and finishing off second-chance opportunities. Robinson is going to be a big part of this team, but Michigan needs a viable alternative for games in which the gap between his offense and defense renders him unplayable. Livers took a step in the right direction tonight.

Still no answer at point guard. Eli Brooks had clearly the best shift of the first half, hitting an early three and moving the ball well. By the time he got back in, the game was out of hand, and he couldn't find his shot. Zavier Simpson made an open three off a beautiful Wagner kickout and was otherwise his usual quiet self on offense. Jaaron Simmons had three points and two assists, failing to really assert himself even though Beilein clearly wants to get him going.


True Blue Grit

November 30th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

(other than maybe Lee Corso) in sports TV I'm more sick of than Dick Vitale.  He was tolerable back in the day when he actually coached at U-D.  But each year doing TV commentary he gets worse.  His schtick is now older than Moses.  I really lost it when he brought up the Webber timeout - multiple times.  I think the other announcer actually told him in very nice terms to STFU about it on one occasion.  Did anyone else catch that?

Steve in PA

November 30th, 2017 at 6:23 PM ^

My wife's grandfather is 91.  We had dinner with him before the game last night.  At least 5 times during dinner he told us that my inlaws were going away "somewhere south" and that his toilet wasn't working (it was fine).

Dookie V is just the same.  He forgets that he went to that well already multiple times during a game.  Must mute Dookie and Bilas when I watch their games.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:01 PM ^

Michigan just isn't going to win big games without a PG. It's far and away their biggest weakness. They don't need Walton-like performances necessarily, but the PG spot is often just a black hole it seems. Brooks seems to be improving. Best-case scenario though may be Simmons putting it together. It's still possible, but also seems a bit unlikely given how he's playing now.


November 30th, 2017 at 11:36 AM ^

putting him at the 5 was the reason we won the BTT and went to the sweet sixteen.  We were a top defensive team in terms of efficiency with him there.

And yeah, Beilein has always favored skilled offensive players in sacrifice of good defensive players and he's not a great motivator of effort, so we're not typically very good at defense but we've had some decent defensive teams led by some good defensive players: Zak Novak, Stu Douglas, Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, etc.

Jon Teske looks like and is playing like a great defensive player.  Our best interior defender since Mitch McGary or ever under Beilien. He needs more playing time.  It took Beilien 20+ games to put DJ at the 5 to get our most effective lineup out there last year, I hope it doesn't take that many to get Teske playing more 5.

True Blue Grit

November 30th, 2017 at 12:04 PM ^

That having two capable bigs on the floor at the same time is a big advantage for a lot of reasons.   We won't have a very good year with just Wagner out there and a little bit of Teske.  NC just ate us alive in the paint.  And so will every other team that has an inside game unless we address it.  


November 30th, 2017 at 10:04 AM ^

should start and play the most minutes of any point guard.  He is the best defensive option, he has made a couple of open threes this year, he gets into the lane and kicks out well (even if the team has not been making that many of them this year), and he is pesky on defense.  He also came up with some nice sneaky finishes last year toward the end of the year.  Beilein is making this too complicated.  Simpson came is as the highest rated recruit of the three (I know that Simmons doens't really count in this regard) and was playing quality minutes on a good team last year.  Brooks is a hot mess defensively and is simply not physically capable of pressuring experienced ball handlers.  There are other options coming in, but Simpson should be the clear starter this year.  I think JB may end up kicking himself for not coming to this conclusion earlier.

Trader Jack

November 29th, 2017 at 10:00 PM ^

We’ll be fine, but we have to trim the rotation a little bit. We can’t play 3 PGs, it just disrupts the flow of the offense too much. We also need to pick one of Poole/Watson. If you do that and play Brooks/Simpson at PG, you’re only playing 9 guys instead of 11.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:04 PM ^

I'm not at all a basketball guru, but it seems poor play causes the PG rotation, not the other way around. I do think we will get better. That's been shown time and time again with Beilein. But it also sucks this year because we're in the midst of an important stretch, which also includes conference games. Then again, how many B1G teams look like they're significantly above Michigan's level besides State right now? 0?


November 30th, 2017 at 11:51 AM ^

I meant that we usually shoot threes like Steph Curry, not that was usually miss them, which is mostly randomness anyway.

Throwing up 3s like Steph Curry is modern basketball.  Steph Curry and the Warriors are pretty good and so are we, at offense, usually.

So to a comment about us shooting a lot of threes and missing them, I say, yeah, that's what we do and we usually make more of them but that's how we've always played.

There's a subset of the fanbase that bitches about us chucking up a lot of threes after games in which we shoot poorly and are like, grumble, grumble, why didn't we go inside more as if we could possibly know we were going go shoot poorly before the shots are actually shot and that we'd just change our identity as a result.

I will say, this year we have probably our worst collection of individual three point shooters we've ever had the 1-3 spots and since Matthews and Wagner are great drivers and finishers and Teske needs to see more minutes, we should end up being less three reliant than usual.


November 30th, 2017 at 9:53 AM ^

"Again", you're on the right track. However, here is where I will cut Beilein some slack...though not much. In basketball you should be able to make a very good assessment of who your "players" are. Unlike football, in basketball you can play at a 100% level in practice. Early on it appears (to me) as though Wagner, Matthews and MAAR should end up playing 30 to 35 minutes. I would try to get Brooks to near 30...and maybe Livers too. This is where the coach earns his keep...there are honest differences of opinion of the experts in these regards.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:01 PM ^

This isn't a team loaded with great defenders, but they'll be better than they showed today.  But this feels like a typical Beilein team with questions at PG, in that it starts off slow in the OOC and then rounds into form as the season progresses.

I'm interested to see how Michigan fares against Texas and UCLA, two teams that are maybe a bit closer to Michigan than UNC.


November 30th, 2017 at 12:48 AM ^

before they called off the dogs/Beilein mercifully took Duncan out.

We beat CMU by only 7 at home.  We lost to LSU who is not good and probably won't make the tourney.  We went to OT with VCU who is not good and probably won't make the tourney.

We could beat UCLA at home because they're essentially an up tempo version of us, but very little chance at Texas with the way we're playing. 

Frank Chuck

November 29th, 2017 at 10:03 PM ^

UNC had nearly a 30 point lead at one point. (70-41 iirc)

I like Beilein (and have often defended him) but our inability to be competitive for 40 minutes in OOC road games against elite teams is terrible.

This was like when we went to Arizona and the game was over by halftime.


November 30th, 2017 at 2:35 PM ^

They also have a senior pg wooden award candidate, they recruit better than us, and their goofy walk on has turned into an all american.


But mainly, aside from our poor defense and rebounding, they made everything, and we missed everything (after making our first 8). They went 0-17 from three against msu (not counting the half court buzzer beater they made), theres a lot of luck involved.


November 30th, 2017 at 3:14 PM ^

*Checks recent recruiting class*


*Sees 3 generic three stars ranked around 200, a legacy 4 star who barely played, and a 3/4 star 215 lb. center.*


Pinson is the only guy far and away a higher ranked player than the Michigan guys. The best player on the court was originally signed as a walk on. Kenny Williams was barely top 100. The recruiting is actually very close. The issue is their guys have outproduced their rankings and ours haven't, sans Wagner.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:18 PM ^

That's a bit unfair.  Michigan nearly won @Wisconsin last year, then won a bunch of neutral-court games in the BTT, then beat Ok St. and Louisville.  Most teams don't win on the road against elite programs.

Michigan's biggest problem is they have uncertainty at PG and guys we sort of assumed would struggle on defense are.  They'll get better at the year progresses (they almost always do under Beilein), and they'll be a better squad come March.  At this point, I've just come to bake into the fan experience that November and December aren't when Michigan plays it's best basketball.


November 30th, 2017 at 10:54 AM ^

Well, as I pointed out Michigan was competitive with Wisconsin on the road last year despite the loss.  Same with Purdue.  My larger point is that "they aren't competitive against elite teams on the road" isn't correct, and they actually even win some of those games.  Hell, they were pretty competitive with UCLA last year for over a half.


November 30th, 2017 at 7:28 AM ^


I like Beilein (and have often defended him) but our inability to be competitive for 40 minutes in OOC road games against elite teams is terrible.


You say that like it's an easy thing to do when, in fact, it's one of the hardest things to do in sports: win a road basketball game against a better team.

UNC was at home and just came off a poor shooting night against MSU.  You knew that the ball was going to find the bottom of the net from the perimeter for them.  Michigan hung with them for a good while and - it's true - the Robinson momentum turning missed layup was big.  Maybe without it the flood gates just hold a bit longer, but let's not act like this was a monumental disaster. It was a small, predictable disaster.

Frank Chuck

November 30th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

...because of all the circumstances you mentioned.

UNC was coming off a double digit loss and this was game was a home game for them.

But you all can't f-ing comprehend what you read. I said it was disappointing that we weren't even freaking competitive for much of the game.

But since you thought I was talking about winning...

Here's a trivia question for you: name the last ranked OOC team we beat in a true road game.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:05 PM ^

I’d give him a shot at point guard. It’s a black hole right now, and he seems to at least have a handle and confidence. My only other hope is Simmons putting it together. He really needs to look to score more. Also, the defense was just terrible, but this isn’t atypical for a coach b team. Just got to hope the effort gets better

Trader Jack

November 29th, 2017 at 10:24 PM ^

The problem with Simmons is that he just has no idea what he’s doing on offense. He’s really indecisive and can’t get us into our sets in the half court. It seems like a mental thing with him and at this point I’d just roll with Brooks and Simpson.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:25 PM ^

Simmons got 9 minutes.  MAAR has proven over the years to be much better than whatever his rankings were when he showed up, and Robinson has always been a defensive liability but is still a really good shooter and has turned into more of an overall playmaker during his time at Michigan.

Yes, Michigan isn't as talented as the defending national champion.  But to insinuate that they lack talent and trotting out some ill-informed, lazy "points" to justify it isn't any more correct. 

Doc Mango Gibbs

November 29th, 2017 at 10:49 PM ^

I would call a quarter of the game significant minutes.  

MAAR is a decent role player, but the guy is averaging 7.8 ppg for his career.  Robinson isn't much better at 9.8, and he's probably one of the worst defensive starters in the confernce.

These guys are hard workers and solid bench players, but neither of them should be starting at Michigan.  I don't think it's "ill-informed" to point that out.  It's obvious to everyone watching.