Remember That Time I Set That Guy On Fire Man Good Times Good Times Dude Was Totally On Fire

Submitted by Brian on February 26th, 2018 at 12:20 PM

2/24/2018 – Michigan 85, Maryland 61 – 24-7, 13-5 Big Ten, end of regular season

NOW THAT I AM LIMBER MY OPPONENT GOES TIMBER

Michigan used to set people on fire with some frequency. Burke or Stauskas would get off to one of those starts, and it would rain death from above on opponents. Three specific examples jump out: a game at Illinois in 2014 where Michigan scored ten points in two minutes and finished the first half with 52, the official-twitter-shruggie Texas game—specifically the 31-6 run that induced said shruggie, and the Elite Eight game against Florida where the Gators let Stauskas shoot six open threes from the same spot on the floor.

This hasn't happened much since the Godmode guys headed to the NBA—last year's MSU game at Crisler is the pleasant exception—and hadn't really happened this year at all unless you count the ludicrous speed Purdue game. Since the above paragraph focuses on the opponent being on fire, not everything touched or looked upon by either player on either team, we'll exclude it. This was Michigan's first incineration of the season. Don't take it from me, take it from this guy in the background who beheld MAAR's half-closing three and decided that the last place he wanted to be was the Homesure Lending Center.

What a good time to incinerate a decent team on the road, the last game of the regular season. Brings a feeling of zesty confidence headed into the post-season. Dreams of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman doing that to a one-seed in the Sweet 16, sort of thing.

38655608820_c14303c9cd_z

[Paul Sherman]

----------------------------

And of course there is the annual self-abasement for the thoughts that you could not dismiss during the early bit when a 15 point hole against UCLA looked like an NIT bid on the horizon. As per usual we've been poking around Bart Torvik's site to catch the wave, but Torvik made it easy this year:

Two clunkers. One probably due to the compressed schedule, the other that ugly road game against Northwestern's zone. One sketchy game against Minnesota. Otherwise, a lot of pew pew pew and opponents hitting the dirt. Also: Michigan yelling at Purdue that they've been shot and are dead and Purdue going "nuh-uh, I have a forcefield."

This is the way of things. Michigan comes out of the gate slowly because they're trying to get a handle on John Beilein's kaleidoscope offense. You think about the recruits that Michigan missed on and how they would certainly be better than the goons currently in front of your face. Some SEC team with a five star on their roster despite no history of doing anything at all stabs Michigan in the neck. Michigan Basketball Twitter starts discussing successors. Two months later every word from that dark period is memory-holed and we all gather around the fire to talk about subs and super soakers and sing kumbaya.

Sometimes there's a returning core able to avoid that grim early period; sometimes your best player gets injured for the year. Otherwise the script is so familiar by now that JJ Abrams could direct it. The bit at the end where Michigan wins a large number of basketball games in a short period of time is nice.

It's even nicer this year, what with the feds on the case in college basketball. Whatever your opinions about whether the FBI should be looking into this or what college basketball should look like going forward, it is absolutely fantastic to not have your heart skip a beat when Pat Forde tweets.

AGENT IMPLICATES MOST OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL is like, whatever, you know? We're just over here playing five-out and never turning the ball over, like we do. Hope that all works out for you and the FBI.

BULLETS

Stats are kind of eh. Michigan got up so much that the second half was for Chris Farley evaluations and Beilein's patented prevent offense. Things got sloppy, and there was a lot of late clock stuff, and so I'm not sure how seriously to take anything in the box score. Except one thing.

Muhammad takes the wheel! I can't promise you that 41% usage is a career record for MAAR but it sure as hell is. 28 points on 22 shot equivalents, seven assists, two turnovers, and two OREBs as a bonus—never before and probably never again. Unless it's the glasses. But MAAR is the one guy on the team who can both shoot and drive with efficiency and is thus Michigan's best hope for a ball-dominant postseason star.

Michigan, being Michigan, isn't going to have many games where its top usage guy is over 30, let alone 40. It doesn't have to. It does need someone who can be efficient up to 24 or 28. Hopefully this Rahk renaissance lasts through the next month.

39570151995_9a0e996f98_z
[Paul Sherman]

Matthews scored some points. Okay, maybe two things. The second thing is that Charles Matthews saw the ball go through the basket in the second half. That made for his first non-miserable outing since Wisconsin and only his 5th in the last 16. Perhaps more encouragingly than that was his usage, which dipped to 21% as MAAR took the wheel. Matthews provides excellent defense and solid OREBs so if his tendency to suck up a bunch of possessions without scoring can be minimized he's still a plus player. For that to happen other guys have to take more shots, and etc etc. I've said it before.

Teske alters the shots. Jon Teske didn't score but that might have been his best game of the season? I might be serious about that. His ten minutes saw him contest maybe a dozen shots, several of which looked like easy finishes until he got involved. Teske was able to fall off his defender despite the opposition starting their drive as Teske, back to the basketball, recovered on a pick and roll; he was only hit with one foul; he at one point intimidated Huerter into a bizarre miss.

I've said it before, but if Mo does go Teske is going to be a different but potentially just as effective post presence.

Don't look at it head on yet. 12/16 from the line. Lack of Matthews/Simpson FTAs (just four) a major factor there. Increased time for Poole very helpful; he's up to 82% on the year.

Wee bit fortunate. Michigan gave up too many good looks from the outside for Maryland to only hit three of them. Their two Just A Shooter guys are hitting 40% on the year and combined to go 1/10. Mostly this happened after the game was decided and closeouts came with less urgency.

Bracket glance. Michigan is now appearing on a fair number of five lines at the Bracket Matrix. Large Media Conglomerate Bracketing still has them as a six, but Michigan is now the top six at BM by some distance. I'd guess they stick there even if they go 1-1 at the Big Ten Tournament. Moving up would probably mean making the final with a win over MSU unless the teams directly in front of them (Kentucky, Rhode Island, Gonzaga, OSU) take a tumble. 

Comments

Shop Smart Sho…

February 26th, 2018 at 12:41 PM ^

Happy Brian is definitely a much better version than the burnt-out and sick version we've had for the last few months.

Now if we can just get the version who gets angry at members of the corporate media and then fisks the hell out of their article/career, we'll all be in a better place.

jmblue

February 26th, 2018 at 2:44 PM ^

Maybe I'm wrong, but my interpretation has been that he pretty much expected Harbaugh's first three years to go like they have and he's more frustrated by having to field "Why haven't we won championships yet?" questions from fans all the time - though he's also not sold on the recent staff changes.

 

 

Michigan Arrogance

February 26th, 2018 at 3:45 PM ^

while the offensive staff changes were certainly part of the struggles in year 3, the problem was was 50% not having a QB/WR corps with expereince, 30% not having a Tackle with experience.

Which, if you think broadly and nievely, not having those 2 things in year 3 seems "unaccelptable"?

But, if you think logically and minutely, sure we don't have a QB or a tackle; none were left to him. What else would you like JH to do about that? get 2 Xfers? check. Get 2-3 4.5*+ recruits? check. Make changes to the offensive staff? check. recruit some talents tackles? check. look for a xfer at tackle? check.

these were problems we could anticipate having in year 3 with such a young team. So sure it didn't go well but it's kind of like, if you don't understand the reasons for this down year and don't see the things JH has done to alleviate them, Brian has nothing to tell you at this point besides  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Birdman

February 26th, 2018 at 12:47 PM ^

Against the Play-in winner, probably a Cincy type 3, and whatever 2. I think that is a better set up then being a 5, playing some shit hot Mid Major Champion, a witchita st and then a 1 seed.

But also WHO beats us when WE ON?!

MC5-95

February 26th, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

Agreed, but depends which 1 or 2 seed. At least one, maybe two, of this year's #1 seeds would be a 2 or lower in more competitive years.

I know I'd rather play Kansas somewhere in the west than Duke or North Carolina somewhere in the southeast. 

Birdman

February 26th, 2018 at 1:54 PM ^

However I think IF MSU/Purdue win the BTT, and DOOK/UNC is the winner*(makes the Final) they will be 1 seeds. Same with XAV/NOVA 

But Avoiding the 1&2 seed ACC Regions would probably be best case.

I just think the top 6 seed is better then the 5 for the first weekend. 

ijohnb

February 26th, 2018 at 1:26 PM ^

believe that we are a comfortable 5 if we make it to the weekend of the BTT(and a low 5 even with a Nebraska loss) with an outside shot at a 4.  If we beat MSU again I think we are 100% a 4 seed.

Birdman

February 26th, 2018 at 2:02 PM ^

If Michigan wins the BTT  beating the MSU PUR along the way we would get full credit and could still rise to the 3 if just barely. Mind you that would be one helluva run.

A2toGVSU

February 26th, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

I simultaneously loved and loathed every bit of commetary from him, which is how I knew for certain it was him.

Chris Farley: "He passed away right? He was funny? Really?"

Ziff72

February 26th, 2018 at 2:53 PM ^

What you or I think is good for players when it comes to turning pro or coming back does not often times agree.    We have no idea what's important to kids so guessing what they will do is not as concrete as you stated.   Miles Bridges stayed despite all the evidence to the contrary.   In this instance Mo is not projected to be a #1 pick.  Conventional logic says to come back if your not a #1 pick.  He may not care about any of that and be done with school and turn pro anyway, or go back to Germany or want to be part of a potential NC level team.   

Let's just let it play out.  

MGlobules

February 26th, 2018 at 3:23 PM ^

I think he well may be. His rebounding is so much improved, and he's much less up and down/streaky, also playing under far better control. Now, he could look awful in workouts. . .

KTisClutch

February 26th, 2018 at 4:06 PM ^

No mocks have him in the first round right now. He doesn't have the length at the 5 spot that teams are looking for and he doesn't have the athleticism or passing teams are looking for in a 4. He would more likely be undrafted than to go first round.

 

Even if he goes 2nd round, it may be the best choice for him to go so he has the most years possible to make money. or he may value another year of pyaing ball with his friends.

rc15

February 26th, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

I wouldn't be surprised if he does go, but I think there is still potential for him to improve his game even more here. Right now I'd project him early to mid 2nd round.

Last year he was a defensive liability, this year he's holding his own. If he can develop into a decent shot blocker and overall good defender, he becomes what every NBA team wants, a true stretch 4. Could go mid 1st round, and that's a huge pay bump.

umchicago

February 26th, 2018 at 2:26 PM ^

i can site numerous examples of big guys getting even better their senior years and improving their draft stock; kaminsky from wisky is a recent example.  plus, mo is nearly a year younger for his class group.

i think a lot depends on this final month.  if UM makes a deep run, it likely means Mo played well and he likely would be gone.

otherwise, he may want to be part of the great expectations for next year.

Hail-Storm

February 26th, 2018 at 2:37 PM ^

is there could be a huge amount of players in this draft due to "the thing" that is being revealed around college basketball.  If he's a first rounder even with the possible influx of players, I say he has to go.  If he's pushed to the mid second round, I htink it might be better to stay a year.  I'm guessing Beilein will help him make the right decision.  I still can't believe how many guys he sends and how early he send them. 

MC5-95

February 26th, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

That GIF is absolutely perfect. Not only shows JP loosening up in the corner (alone!), but it's the dawn of the coming doom, the moment before the team proceeded to SCORE 51 POINTS IN 15 MINUTES. I like typing that in all caps, because holy mother of god they brought the hammer down. Love it. 

CLion

February 26th, 2018 at 1:08 PM ^

I am still worried about matching up with a team like Nebraska, who are sort of this amorphous blob of athletes that get after it on defense. Not sure how many teams there are like that though, and we'll see if Beilein (knock on wood) has a better plan for them on Friday.

Indy Pete - Go Blue

February 26th, 2018 at 8:48 PM ^

This team is the hardest type of matchup for this team.  Beilein even stated in a recent pressor that this team is an extremely challenging matchup for Michigan.  I say - good - since we will have to beat a long athletic team later on if we want to make a long NCAA tourney run.  Let's work out some kinks from our worst game in the season and become an even better team.  And, if we manage to beat Nebraska, we have the opportunity to humble MSU again as well as the chance to win B2B B1G championships!

uncle leo

February 26th, 2018 at 1:12 PM ^

With Rhode Island. They have beaten one ranked team all season, Seton Hall, who is now a good, but not great team.

I don't think in any rational justification you put them above Michigan.

Erik_in_Dayton

February 26th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

He plays like he's every bit of seven feet tall and roughly 250 lbs.  That may seem like a backhanded compliment, but how many big guys can you say that about?  I'm sometimes still surprised that we have a big man like that.  His presence on the floor changes things.

As for Rahk, remember when he had kind of a funky shooting stroke and looked like one of the worst shooters - at least for a guard - that Beilein had recruited?  It's a ton of fun to see what he is now.

HermosaBlue

February 26th, 2018 at 1:41 PM ^

And on the other extreme, you may recall Courtney Sims, who, despite being 6'11", played the 5 smaller than Avery Queen.

Teske keeps his arms up on D, and when he's on the other end of the floor, he keeps the ball high, doesn't bend down to protect the ball, etc.

HermosaBlue

February 26th, 2018 at 1:59 PM ^

Agreed.  Fundamentals were abysmal - guys couldn't set picks properly, consistently lost their check on defense when they watched the ball, never made any effort to box out.

Strategically, not much better.  Watching the ball move around the perimeter on offense with almost no sense of purpose, no motion...just a jacked up jumper before the shot clock expired.  

That era was a crime against basketball.

Hail-Storm

February 26th, 2018 at 2:43 PM ^

I hated watching the ball move around the peremeter with no purpose and the jacked up 3 at the end.  It made those games so hard to watch.  I was begging for a drive and kick type option. Beilein's offenses are so fun to watch.  Even when they get bogged down a little, you can still see a purpose to them. 

I also have to give RAAK a huge apology.  In my mind, a few months ago, I was frustrated by some of his drives that just didn't look good, and was thinking that Simpson should get the ball more late in the shot clock.  He has completely won me over the last month or month and a half.  His drives and finishes look so much better and his shot and alpha dog are coming alive.