The road to 21 wins

February 2, 2009

Let me start off with the good news. The Big Ten will not be suspending Manny Harris. Which is absolutely the right call. Click here for John Beilein’s statement regarding the incident.


83742129NL027_2K_SPORTS_CLAI think now would be a good time to review the road to 21 wins. When Michigan started the season 13-3 the projection was looking good. Now that they have lost 5 of their last 6 it would seem like the projection is in jeopardy. Actually it is not.

To quickly review my projection was based on breaking the schedule down into two categories; projected wins and remaining games. I projected 17 games as wins and there were 14 remaining games of which I said Michigan had to win 4 to get to 21 wins.

So far Michigan has played 13 of the games I had projected as wins and they have won 12 and lost one (at PSU).

They have played 9 games from the remaining 14 games category. Michigan has won 2 of those games (UCLA and Duke) and lost 7.

Based on my projections Michigan should be 16-6 or 15-7 and their record is 14-8. How do I come up with this? They should have won 13 games from the projected category and 2 or 3 of the remaining games.

So you see they are not that far off the pace.

There are 4 more games I had projected as wins; Penn State, at Northwestern, Minnesota, at Minnesota.

There are 5 games left from the remaining games; at Connecticut, Michigan State, at Iowa, Purdue, at Wisconsin.

The other factor is the Big Ten Tournament.

Those projections were made before the season started. I realize now that sweeping Minnesota is unlikely.  I also think they have a good chance to win 3 of the games in the remaining group. I think they have a good chance to win these games; Michigan State, at Iowa, Purdue.

Plus you still have the Big Ten Tournament where they could pick up some more wins. Let us know what you think my submitting a comment.


Michigan falls at Purdue

January 31, 2009

Michigan Purdue BasketballThis 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 (Penn State, 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.

Novak Suspended for One Game

January 30, 2009

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.”

Purdue Preview and Boiling

January 29, 2009

2009-0104-ad-umbball2372Michigan (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 Ohio State.

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. 

Go Blue

Michigan loses at Columbus

January 28, 2009

Michigan Ohio St BasketballMichigan lost an ugly one at Ohio State 72-54. Ohio State 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 Ohio State 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 Ohio State lead in half. However every time Michigan had a chance to really cut into the lead Ohio State 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, Ohio State 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. Ohio State 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. 

Ohio State Preview

January 26, 2009

simsosu11Michigan (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. Ohio State beat Michigan at Crisler 65-58 since then the Buckeyes have lost at Illinois and at home to Michigan State.

Michigan did not play well back on January 17th when they hosted the Buckeyes. Michigan really seemed to struggle with Ohio State’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 Ohio State 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 knocks off Northwestern

January 24, 2009

Northwestern Michigan BasketballMichigan 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 Ohio State and at Purdue. To keep pace Michigan will need to steal a win at one of those tough road venues.

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