Michigan Loses to Wisconsin; Tourney Chances Hinge on Minnesota Game

By · Monday, March 2, 2009 · 2:35 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 

I wasn’t expecting a win on Sunday, so it didn’t surprise me that Michigan lost to Wisconsin. What did surprise me is that Michigan only lost by a score of 60-55 despite playing like absolute crap at the start of both halves.

To start the game, Michigan went down 8-0, and it looked like a repeat of the first meeting between these two teams was about to happen. Wisconsin was making every shot they attempted (mainly because nearly every shot was a layup) and Michigan couldn’t score. That combination seemed like it would last for most of the game, but Michigan got things turned around and went on something like a 16-2 run in the final ten minutes of the half. Thanks to that big shift in momentum, Michigan actually led 34-32 at the half.

That lead quickly disappeared thanks to an absolutely pathetic start to the second half. Michigan had scored only 2 points in the half until Laval Lucas-Perry hit a three-pointer right around the ten-minute mark. That three sparked another run, and Michigan began to slowly cut away at what was once a 9-point lead. In fact, with less than three minutes remaining, Michigan trailed by only 2 points. Despite playing so poorly for extended portions of this game, Michigan was in position to win the game.

Now trailing by 3 with around 30 seconds left on the clock, Michigan had a chance to tie the game. DeShawn Sims got the ball and had an open look from behind the arc, but his shot didn’t fall. Then, after Wisconsin made only a single free throw, Sims missed another three-pointer. Michigan could have gone for a two-pointer since the lead was only 4 points, but Sims was open and decided to shoot. I can’t blame him for shooting the threes, but in a situation like that I would rather see someone like Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, or Manny Harris taking shots from behind the arc.

Michigan did its best to extend the game, but Wisconsin didn’t miss enough of its free throws to make it worthwhile for the Wolverines. The Badgers went on to win 60-55 and have now put themselves in solid position to make the tournament. Things could change when they play Minnesota this week, but for now, they are on the good side of the bubble. The same can’t be said for Michigan, but they still have a chance to change that.

Michigan’s final regular season game is at Minnesota on Saturday. They have almost a week off to prepare for the game, which should be a big advantage. Michigan is going to need every advantage they can get, because winning at Minnesota won’t be easy, especially when you consider that the Golden Gophers are going to be playing for a spot in the NCAA tournament as well.

This is almost like a play-in game in that sense. If Michigan can beat Minnesota they will likely be on the good side of the bubble yet again. A win in the Big Ten tournament would still be necessary, but first things first, they have to beat Minnesota on Saturday. If Michigan doesn’t, then the only way to make the tournament is by pulling off a miracle run and winning the Big Ten tournament. Anything is possible, as Georgia showed us last year, but the chances of winning four games in four days are very slim.

(Check out UM Hoops for a list of which bubble teams we should be rooting against this week.)

1 Comment

  1. ahtrap says:

    I went to the game, and while not expecting a win either, I figured there was at least an equal chance because this year’s Wisconsin squad has been somewhat of a mirror image of Michigan’s struggles…

    A few things stood out, starting with Beilein’s switching up of the defenses. Whatever he came out with to start the game obviously didn’t work, some sort of 1-3-1 matchup zone that Wisconsin just walked right through en route to 4 layups to start the game. He switched to a 2-3 zone, that totally made Wisconsin work for their buckets, but then abandoned that after a few possessions because they were still scoring, even though the last basket was a putback slam by Marcus Landry, one of countless offensive rebounds on the day for the Badgers. Fortunately, Beilein figured out that this was the most effective defense for the Wolverines and utilized the 2-3 most often the rest of the game…

    2) Offensive rebounds for the Badgers…I just looked up the stats, and I can’t believe that officially, they only got 8. I can only recall 2 of michigan’s 6 offensive boards, but I think I can remember every one of teh Badgers, because they came at critical moments…

    3) Trevon Hughes’ 3 pointer off an out of bounds play. Pass from baseline to Hughes out at the top of the arc, swish. Stu Douglass was asleep at the wheel, maybe guarding against a cut that Hughes didn’t make? I don’t know, but that was just catch and shoot, too easy…

    4) DeShawn Sims is my favorite player on this team, but man was he frustrating to watch yesterday….I thought he could go baseline on Marcus Landry all day, but he got the first one blocked and rarely went down low on Landry thereafter. And later….in a tight game, do you really want your de facto center, who shoots 3s at a sub-30 percent rate, taking three triples within the last 3 minutes? Granted, one of them was a shot clock desperation heave….on an absolutely pathetic possession when I don’t even think the ball made it inside the arc once….but two jacks in the last minute by Sims? I don’t care if he got a good look, when he shoots a percentage similar to what you or I could make, that’s not the guy you want with the ball outside the arc in the last minute.

    4) Manny was being Manny yesterday, he hit one step back, fallaway, off balance three in the first half, and fell in love with the shot…he drives to the hoop well, but he’s not a good finisher yet…

    5) and despite all that, this was a eminently winnable game, because just as badly as Michigan started each half, so too did the Badgers sphincters tighten when Michigan started hitting a couple of shots. Michigan had three possessions where they could have tied the game in the last three minutes, and I totally believe that had they been able, Michigan would have won the game. But one ended in a Manny harris jack from about 25 feet out, another one with an aforementioned Sims heave, I forget what happened to the third one, and there went the ballgame…

    ’twas frustrating, and to top it off, I didn’t even get abused for wearing Michigan gear…granted, it’s not like it was a football game and I was wearing the wrong colors in a sea of drunken students, but still, you’d figure one of the old people or one of the little kids would yell something derogatory my way….

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