This was a slow starting game. It took Michigan almost 7 minutes to score their first points. The good news was that Purdue had only scored 4 points in that same span. DeShawn Sims scored Michigan’s first 6 points, on two triples. Then Jevohn Shepherd came in and gave Michigan a lift. Zack Gibson and Anthony Wright also provided a spark off the bench. When Gibson tipped in a bucket at the first half buzzer Michigan took a 27-26 lead into the break.
Coming out of the break Michigan appeared to be playing with some confidence and was leading 29-27 at the 18:28 mark when Manny Harris inadvertently elbowed Chris Kramer in the nose. A flagrant foul was called and that was fine even though there was no intent on Harris’ part to elbow Kramer. The Purdue crowd went nuts as Kramer lay on the floor bleeding. So the officials decided to eject Harris. I think that was a bad call. He was called for the flagrant foul, that was all that needed to happen. Heck when Novak got bloodied by Legion there wasn’t even a foul called on that play not to mention an ejection.
Harris getting ejected deflated Michigan and Purdue dominated the rest of the game. The Boilermakers coasted to an easy 67-49 win.
The road to 21 wins: It is getting a bit bumpy. This was not a projected win. The breakdown is as follows: there are 4 games left that I had them projected to win (PennState, at Northwestern, Minnesota, and at Minnesota). There are 5 other games left on the schedule, plus the Big Ten tournament. I think the best case scenario is that Michigan wins 3 of the 4 I had them projected to win which would put them at 17 wins. That leaves 5 games left plus the Big Ten Tournament to get 4 more wins.
MGoBlue is reporting that John Beilein has suspended Zack Novak for the Purdue game as a result of the elbowing incident at Ohio State. “We are taking swift and appropriate action with Zack for this isolated and very uncharacteristic incident,” said Beilein. “He is a fine young man, and while his actions were unacceptable he understands the severity of them and is apologetic and regretful for his behavior. I am confident Zack will learn a valuable lesson from this imposed discipline and the consequences of his actions.”
Michigan (14-7, 4-5) heads to West Lafayette on Saturday for a 1pm tip against the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2). The game will be televised on CBS. Michigan comes in having lost 4 of 5. Purdue is riding a 5 game winning streak that includes back to back road wins at Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Purdue has three players averaging over 12 points per game; E’Twuan Moore 14.2, Robbie Hummel 12.9, and JaJuan Johnson 12.6. They are a tough team and will play very tough defensively.
Michigan is fresh of the disaster in Columbus. John Beilein has suspended Zack Novak for one game as a result of the elbowing. I have heard a wide range of opinions on what people think of that elbow. I know it looked bad but there are two sides to every story and so far we have only heard half the story. I would suggest to some that maybe they should wait before making hasty proclamations. By all accounts Zack Novak is a great young man who has been playing his heart and guts out for this team. I have heard analyst after analyst heap praise on Novak for the way he plays the game. One errant elbow doesn’t change that.
I think by now we all know what needs to happen for Michigan to win this game. They have to come out of the gates with more effort and intensity. They need more consistency on the three point shooting. They must avoid the turnovers that plagued them in Columbus. The one thing that I notice is Michigan wins when they are active defensively and creating turnovers which leads to transition points and momentum swings. In this recent skid that has really been missing. There were flashes of it in the second half against OhioState.
The quick start that was launched by the UCLA and Duke wins has certainly raised the expectations for this team. An NCAA birth is still within reach. It was mentioned during the telecast of the Penn State game that Coach Beilein told the team water boils at 212 degrees and they needed to play at that level of intensity not 211 degrees but a steady 212 degrees.
Consider this: When heated to 212 degrees F the molecules which make up water are moving at a high enough speed that they overcome the air pressure above the water. As additional heat is added to liquid water at 212 degrees, the water begins to boil. As the water boils it is changing state from a liquid to a gas. In addition, during the boiling process the temperature remains the same (212 degrees F). There is no change in temperature during a change of state.
So what does that have to do with Michigan Basketball? What was Coach Beilein talking about? When a basketball team plays at 212 degrees the individuals which make up the team are moving at a high enough speed that they overcome good teams and win tough games. As additional heat is added to that team at 212 degrees, the team begins to gain momentum and confidence. As the team continues to boil it results in execution and people making plays. Can the Wolverines reach the boiling point against the Boilermakers? We saw them do it before. There is no reason they can’t do it again. Believe in what you are doing and you can beat anybody.
Michigan lost an ugly one at OhioState 72-54. OhioState used an early 19-2 run to seize control of the game taking a 19-4 lead at the 12:09 mark of the first half. Michigan only had 2 made field goals in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Michigan shot 20% from the field in the first half, including 0-11 on three pointers. Evan Turner scored 14 first half points and OhioState took a comfortable 36-18 lead into halftime. John Beilein even was called for a technical foul at the end of the half as he was trying to inject some life into the Wolverines.
Michigan came out and knocked down 4 triples in the first 7 minutes of the second half and cut the OhioState lead in half. However every time Michigan had a chance to really cut into the lead OhioState answered with a basket or Michigan turned the ball over. Michigan cut the lead down to 8 points once and several times had it down to 9 points. However, OhioState always had the answer and never allowed Michigan to get any closer.
Things got a little ugly late when Zack Novak was called for an intentional foul. Novak elbowed TJ Hill in the mouth on a made free throw by Evan Turner. Things got a little tense but cooler heads prevailed. OhioState ended up coasting to an easy win and knocked Michigan back under .500 in the conference.
Manny Harris had 22 points and 12 rebounds but he also had 10 turnovers in the game.
The road to 21 wins: This was not a game I projected them to win. However, the still need to win 3 more games that I did not project to stay on pace. If you recall I had broken the schedule down into two categories. Projected wins: 17 and remaining 14 games, which I said if they win 4 of those games would get them to 21 wins. So far they have lost one game that I projected as a win (at PSU) and won two games that fell into the remaining games category (UCLA & Duke).
Up next: It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to West Lafayette on Saturday.
Michigan (14-6, 4-4) travels to Columbus on Wednesday night to take on the Buckeyes (13-5, 3-4) for the second time in 11 days. The game will tip off at 6:30 and be televised on the Big Ten Network. OhioState beat Michigan at Crisler 65-58 since then the Buckeyes have lost at Illinois and at home to MichiganState.
Michigan did not play well back on January 17th when they hosted the Buckeyes. Michigan really seemed to struggle with OhioState’s length and athleticism in that contest. The Wolverines seemed to have righted the ship on Saturday when they beat Northwestern. Hopefully they can roll into Value City Arena and steal a road win. A win would put Michigan two games ahead of OhioState in the Big Ten standings. As of today Michigan is in 6th place in the conference just a game ahead of OSU and Wisconsin.
This is the first in a key 5 game stretch for Michigan. They have the opportunity to secure some impressive, NCAA Tournament resume building wins. During the 5 game stretch Michigan will play at Ohio State, #16 Purdue, and #2 Connecticut as well as host Penn State and #9 Michigan State.
Michigan enters the game with 4 players that have made at least 26 three pointers (Novak 29, Harris 28, Douglass 27, Grady 26).
This game will feature three of the top 5 scorers in the Big Ten in Harris, Sims, and Turner who check in at 2, 4, and 5 respectively. Sims continues to lead the Big Ten in rebounding, Harris checks in at third in rebounding.
Michigan picked up a much needed win on Saturday night defeating Northwestern 68-59 at Crisler Arena. Besides snapping a 3 game losing streak the win was John Beilein’s 500th NCAA win, congratulations to Coach Beilein.
DeShawn Sims got Michigan going early by scoring the first 9 points for the Wolverines. With 14:12 left to play in the first half Kelvin Grady knocked down a triple and gave Michigan a 14-11 lead and they would not surrender that lead the rest of the game. Moments later Grady followed that up with another triple. Michigan cruised into halftime with a 33-24 lead.
Laval Lucas-Perry started things off for Michigan in the second half by draining a three pointer and on Michigan’s next possession LL Cool P dropped a dime on Kelvin Grady, who tripled to put Michigan up by 10 points.
The Wildcats had sliced the Michigan lead to 4 points at 41-37 with 15:00 left in the game. Stu Douglass responded by knocking down back to back triples. Douglass continued his fine play of late by scoring a lay up on a fast break and on Michigan’s next possession he feed Zack Novak who drilled a three pointer that put Michigan up by 13 points. Zack Gibson scored Michigan’s final field goal of the game with 8:43 left in the half. Northwestern was unable to take advantage of that and was not able to cut into the lead. Meanwhile the Wolverines shot 12-15 on free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
Michigan featured a balanced scoring attack with 6 players scoring at least 7 points. Sims led Michigan with 15 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks. Manny Harris struggled to score for the second game in a row but he did finish with a nice stat line, 8 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Zack Novak scored 7 points to go along with 7 boards and 2 assists.
Inside the numbers:Michigan hammered Northwestern on the boards 40-20. Michigan had an outstanding 18 assists on 22 field goals and only turned the ball over 8 times. Michigan’s bench out scored Northwestern’s bench 22-6.
The road to 21 wins: With the win Michigan improves to 14-6 (4-4). This was a must win according to my projections. Next up for Michigan is back to back road games, at OhioState and at Purdue. To keep pace Michigan will need to steal a win at one of those tough road venues.
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Michigan (13-6, 3-4) is going to have their hands full on Saturday night when they host Northwestern (10-6, 2-4). On Wednesday night the Wildcats went to East Lansing and knocked off the Spartans. Maybe they will have a let down coming off such an emotional win. Then again maybe they will be clicking on all cylinders after such a big win.
Northwestern is led by the duo of Kevin Coble (14.6 ppg) and Craig Moore (14.1 ppg). They are a smart team that shoots the ball well and executes their offense and defense sharply.
We all know Michigan is on a 3 game losing streak and desperately needs a win. Less then two weeks ago the Wolverines were ranked in both polls and sitting at 3-1 in the conference. Since then they have lost to Illinois, OhioState, and PennState. They have not shot the ball well and according to many observers they look tired. In fact one of PennState’s coaches told Coach Beilein that his team looked tired on Tuesday night.
This is a young team and perhaps they have hit the wall. Sharp shooters Zack Novak, Laval Lucas-Perry, and Stu Douglass are all playing for the first time. Maybe they are tired.
This is the same team that knocked off UCLA, Duke, and a very good Illinois team. They also nearly lost to SavannahState and Indiana, having to comeback from 20 point deficits in both of those games to secure wins. Coach Beilein said this season would be a roller coaster and he is proving to be exactly right.
I know this feels all too familiar to all of us longsuffering Michigan fans. We have seen this script before; a promising start crumbles as the team gets into the grind of the Big Ten schedule. The one big difference this time is John Beilein. He is a tremendous coach and he is capable of guiding this team through the storm. He knows what he is doing and how he can guide this talented but young team through the growing pains that come with laying a foundation.
I still believe in this team. I believe they can get this going in the right direction again. Will they beat Northwestern? I don’t know. I sure hope so, but as we are seeing the Big Ten is fairly stacked this year, not surprising considering the caliber of coaches this conference has.
So I urge all Michigan Basketball fans to step back from the ledge and get behind this team when they need you the most.