Game 18: Michigan at Wisconsin Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (10-7, 3-2) vs. Wisconsin (14-4, 4-2)
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisc
When: January 20th, 8:30 PM EST
: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
: Wisconsin by 9
Stats: Live TFS
Opposition Blogs: Hoops Marinara
Pomeroy Profile
Preview Content: Interview


No Big Ten road game is easy but the trip to Madison is exceptionally painful for just about every Big Ten team. The Badgers’ numbers at home are staggering. 130-10 since Bo Ryan arrived and only seven different teams have won there. Michigan hasn’t won in Madison since 1999 and John Beilein has yet to beat Bo Ryan during his tenure in Ann Arbor.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to pick up a road win, right?

OK, maybe not. But that being said, the match-ups aren’t nearly as unfavorable as years past. Last year Wisconsin sported numerous big men including Jon Leuer, Marcus Landry, Joe Krabbenhoft (who had a knack to grabbing every backbreaking offensive rebound), and Keaton Nankivil among others. This year, since Jon Leuer’s injury, Wisconsin has only one player over 6’6 that averages over 10 minutes per game.

That’s not to say the Badgers don’t have size, the top 8 players (minus Leuer) in their rotation have an average weight of 208 pounds, Michigan’s top 8 average 203 pounds. You won’t find a guard under 195 pounds on the Wisconsin roster while Michigan’s is cluttered with guys like Douglass, Lucas-Perry, and Manny Harris who are easily giving up 10-20 pounds on their Wisconsin opponents.

You can be sure that Wisconsin will run their flex offense to perfection because Bo Ryan won’t have it any other way. Despite their new found love of the perimeter, I am sure that Ryan will not miss out on the opportunity to post up his stronger guards. Michigan has historically fared poorly versus to flex offense under Beilein as well, losing twice in three years to Al Skinner’s Boston College team.

Thanks  to Robbie Allen of listening to my crazy suggestions we now have offense vs. defense graphs comparing seasonal numbers. Here you can see Michigan’s offense charted versus Wisconsin’s defense.

Wisconsin’s defense ranks 8th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency, allowing only .855 points per possession. They hold opponents to a dreadful 42.8% from 2 point range and an overall effective field goal percentage of 44.5%. Most importantly, Wisconsin is the best defensive rebounding team in the country rebounding over 75% of their opponents misses. Similar to UConn, they don’t force many turnovers (18.8%) which is good news for Michigan’s backcourt which has been shaky over the last couple weeks.

While it isn’t quite as good as Wisconsin’s defense, the Badgers’ offense is not too shabby itself. Wisconsin does a great job of holding onto the ball which means Michigan, who has forced a lot of turnovers this year, will have their work cut out for them on the defensive end. The Badgers shoot 51.5% from two point range but have actually taken a ton of three point shots this year, they have attempted 44% of their field goals from three point range in Big Ten play and are shooting 35% on threes for the year.

The good news for Michigan is that Jon Leuer was the Badgers’ most efficient offensive player (ORtg 119.8, Usage 27.1%) and he is out of the lineup indefinitely. He was shooting 35% from three point range but more importantly he was Wisconsin’s leading scorer inside the arc (56.5% on twos), their best shotblocker, and one of their top defensive rebounders.

Michigan needs to find somebody who can stop Trevon Hughes

Since Leuer’s injury, the Badgers have consistently shifted toward becoming a more perimeter oriented team. Luckily they have Trevon Hughes, one of the premiere guards in the league (16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 49% 3ptfg). He is almost certain to give Michigan fits and I wonder who will draw the task of checking him. Morris had been playing well on defense but Kemba Walker reminded him that he’s just a freshman. I would suspect that Michigan will give Douglass and Lucas-Perry a try as well to see how they fare.

Jason Bohannon is the Badger’s certified sniper, shooting 39.8% from three point range but providing little else. Sophomore Jordan Taylor is one of the most intriguing players on Wisconsin’s roster this year. He isn’t a three point shooter but he has a stellar assist rate (27.2%), doesn’t turn it over, and can get to the line (47.3% FTR)

Down low, the Badgers have relied on Keaton Nankivil in Leuer’s absence. Nankivil is a very good player but he is definitely not Jon Leuer. When Nankivil sits, Wisconsin leans of a number of players including Tim Jarmusz, Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz, and Jared Berggren. None of them are really impact players but they are all strong even if a bit undersized.

I think DeShawn Sims needs a big game for Michigan to have any chance. Sims doesn’t typically play well on the road or versus a strong interior defensive team like Wisconsin but if there is ever a chance for him to put together a monster game on the road, it’s versus a team that lost their best post player. Sims rebounded with an intensity that we haven’t seen in quite some time versus Connecticut and it would be great to see him keep that effort up on the glass.

Manny Harris tends to struggle versus Wisconsin, averaging just 8 points per game on 9 of 39 combined shooting in his last three games versus the Badgers. Wisconsin plays incredibly compact, physical, and fundamental defense that has gotten the best of Harris, not allowing him to get to the hoop. Manny’s one great game versus the Badgers came during his freshman year in Madison when Manny almost single handily led Michigan to an upset win.

Finally it comes down to the shooters. Novak, Douglass, and Lucas-Perry need to find their stroke. Michigan’s best three point shooting performance this year is 37.5% while last year they had several performances over 40%. It’s clear they aren’t a good three point shooting team but you have to think they could be due for just one incredibly hot performance, maybe in the low 40s.

Michigan has been playing good basketball over the last five games or so but they have also been playing mostly weaker opponents. Now, headed into a brutal stretch of 3 games (@ Wisc, @Purdue, vs. MSU) Michigan has an opportunity. These games are all long shots but if Michigan were to figure out a way to win two of them they would be in the thick of NCAA bubble talk, after being dead in the water a couple weeks back. I don’t know if Beilein has any “queme los barcos” motivational ploy up his sleeve but it’s probably time to use it.

  • Tweeter

    ha my first post game comment is awaiting moderation. SOrry Dylan. Im a little pissed. I would hate to be Beilein right now, talk about being let down by your players. I thought he did a great job coaching this game, and the players just decided it was time to put their head in their butt. Perfect timing guys. A chance to really turn things around and instead you do everything possible to lose.

  • JRose

    Cough, cough-as much as I hate Hughes, he is probably the top guard in the Big Ten, his handles are sick! He understands what it is like to be a star…he steps up when his team needs it.

  • Drew

    We are a weak, pathetic excuse for a college basketball team. Forget what happened against Connecticut, that was embarrassing. Thanks for bringing me down from cloud nine after those back to back 3’s from Stu.

    You don’t recover from games like this. This could have propelled us through a HUGE stretch, but forget about it. Blowout loss at Purdue. Close loss against Sparty. And we’re going to sputter our way into fighting for the NIT bid. Sometimes I wonder why I get so invested in this team. Ugh

  • Tweeter

    um no, top guard in the big ten is clearly Evan Turner followed by Kalin Lucas, then probably Durrell Summers, then probably Tailor Battle, then maybe Trevon Hughes, and then Etwan Moore, then whatever his name is on Northwestern, then that short white guy on Indiana, then the freshmen on Illinois, then the other short white guys on Iowa, then whoever plays for Minnesota, then maybe Chris Allen and Kory Lucious, then perhaps Jason Bohannan, then Jon Diebler, then the other guard on penn st, then um, who am I missing, oh yea right, then its Manny Harris

  • Drew

    That’s the last thing I wanna hear after a loss like that.

  • Durrell Summers?

  • Other Matt

    I love Manny and everything he does, but no way is he an NBA player right now. Can he get there? Yeah, I think he can. But he is WAY, WAY too inconsistent right now. The only thing worse than losing him to the draft is losing him to Europe. That would be horrible.

  • Tweeter

    Im reaching I know, but damnit, the one time you need your best player to step up, and the guy disappears. Its onyl one game and I am usually very level headed about these things, but come one. Make a freakin play. Just one freakin play. we needed so little to win this game, and we got less than that from Manny. Its just tough. We can criticize DOuglass, or Novak or LLP or Gibson or whoever all we want, but the fact is that Manny and Sims have the talent. One of them showed up and the other didnt.

  • FlintsVoice

    Uconn game we had every player give max effort for 40 min
    Every other game including this one michigan does not play hard for 40 min. I can tolerate turnovers or missed shots but not a lack of effort. Sims dominates most the game, but then plays weak the last 5. We give up how many 2nd and 3rd chances

  • pgrom

    it’s all Manny’s fault….never mind the guy who played 36 minutes and didn’t score or the goosegg our bench gave us

  • JB

    tweeter – that’s the best post i’ve ever read.
    drew – i totally agree, this is a loss we don’t recover from.

    we don’t deserve to make the tournament, as much as it hurts to say it. i feel like i did after the iowa game last year.

  • Other Matt


    I’m a Steelers fan. I grew up rooting for a team that broke my heart every year and lost every other AFC championship game at home over a 10 year period (I’m too young for the Steel Curtain dynasty days). The one Superbowl they did make, they lost to the freaking Cowboys. They played Bubby Brister, Neil O’Donnell, Kordell Stewart, Kent Graham, Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox, Kordell Stewart, and Tommy Maddox before unearthing Roethlisberger. Then they won the Superbowl and it was sweet. A little anti-climactic but sweet. Then they won another Superbowl on the heels of a legendary drive by Big Ben and one of the best catches I’ve ever seen. And it was even sweeter. I didn’t think it could get any better.

    Want to know what my favorite sports fan moment of the last decade is?

    …Selection Sunday last year. As a life-time sufferer and 4 year student ticket holder through the Amaker years, I suffered man. And seeing our name on the bracket line, and the resulting celebration… man, I wouldn’t trade anything for that feeling.

    So, yeah, that’s why you buy in. Because sometimes it pays off and you get to go to that place that you so rarely get to experience as a sports fan.

  • Tweeter

    Thats exactly what I am saying pgrom. You cant just complain about other guys in a game like this. It would be different if we lost to a team like Kansas by 15 and Manny had a bad game as did Novak or whoever. Then you could say, you know what even if Manny goes off, we would still have needed Novak or whoever to score as well. In this game, we needed our stars to play well. F, we needed them to play ok. Manny played like garbage. There was enough support in this game for us to win, if he plays decent. You know what, he didnt.

    thats fine for an average college player, its not fine when you are basically the program. He has a lot on his shoulders I know, but too often we are seeing these kind of performances out of him.

  • Giddings

    Obviously this was a HUGE opportunity wasted, but everyone immediately throwing away our chances of making a run for the Tourney is overreacting. Most level-headed people said before the UConn game that we needed to win 2 of the next 4 to have a shot down the stretch. We can still win 1 of the next 2 and be fine.

    Personally I think there’s no way we win at Purdue (had a much, much better feeling about the UW game) but you never know about that game against MSU. Beat MSU, then take care of business at home the rest of the way and win at Iowa and NW and we’re at 11-7 sitting pretty.

    Hard to not freak out after a loss like this, I know, but taking a step back we still have opportunities…

  • Tweeter

    I really need to take a step back, but I fear if I do I will fall off my balcony and break my drunken neck. Its just one game, but damn, it was an extremely winnable game against a garbage team that was ranked. How often do you get that shot? Very rarely.

  • Drew

    @Other Matt,

    I know what you’re saying man. I currently go to GVSU, but make it to my fair share of games. Grew up a Michigan fan, and really I’ve always lived and died more with the basketball team just because I think I like the sport a little more than football. Even when the football team was going to Rose Bowl’s, I was still getting my heart ripped out with every Amaker loss.

    Wasn’t at Selection Sunday last year, but I was obviously watching on TV. Can’t even really describe that feeling. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I know why I get so invested in sports, and this team in particular. But there are times when my stress level just rips through the roof, and I wish I could disconnect at least a little bit.

    But I know that isn’t possible, and I’m not really trying to fight it. So I’ll let this sink in for a couple days, while it occupies my mind about 75% of the day. But come Saturday at 4, if I’m not in West Lafayette, I’ll be right in front of my TV getting worked up about another game. And I know at about 6 p.m. I’ll almost certainly be drinking away my sorrows from another loss. But I don’t think there’ll ever be a day when I’m any less invested.

  • Drew

    Dang, interesting tweet from Peedi. I’m guessing he’s upset with the officiating, but who knows.

    I can say a bunch of things right now but I’m going to shut my mouth

  • Matt

    pgrom, it’s on Manny because he has assumed that role. When you’re putting up 20/game for the season, you’re the one that is supposed to step up down the stretch on the road. Role players shouldn’t be expected to make plays, yeah they can play solid, but your leaders are the ones you look to in the closing minutes. When your leader still has questionable decision making, that’s where the majority of the blame goes.

  • Zeph

    New revelation. Manny is just another Daniel Horton. I’ll give him a slight edge, but they are similar in terms of what they provide for Michigan. Michigan really has so much potential they just seem incapable of putting it all together consistently. You would think at this point in the season Belien would have his boys worked out, but I guess not. It’s not really on Belien either though. It’s on the general state of Michigan basketball to put a strong effort into a winning program. I still believe there is a chance to go to the tourney. We need to win some big wins and do well in the Big 10 tourney. It’s not over. We are a resilient bunch

  • Tweeter

    thank gosh he did shut his mouth. Who knows what he was going to say, rip the officials, manny, other teammates, the president, haitian relief fundraisers, epke udoh, etc. Anyway you look at it, it would have been a bad idea for him to say anything.

  • Drew

    Haha Tweeter I’m glad someone could finally make me laugh… Haitian relief effort, the president… ridiculous!

  • pgrom

    well maybe next year we’ll have somebody else to kick around besides Manny

  • Matt

    On a positive note, nothing was broken in the 2nd half or following the game.

  • Kevin

    Other Matt, we should be friends. I’m about 4 years younger but what you said basically defines my fanhood to an extent.

  • bluejays

    Missed this game – at a movie. Looks like I made the right decision. From the highlights, looks like we started out owning a vulnerable, hobbled team and could have put them away but didn’t because of a total collapse on our part. Did I read this right? Now we’re apparently doomed.

    On subject of Manny possibly going to Europe. I realize it’s not as great as my Raptors getting him, but from his point of view, Europe’s a nice place to live, as long as you’re not in Eastern Europe.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    One of the toughest losses I’ve ever experienced as a Michigan fan…

    Yeah Trevon Hughes stepped up, but poor officiating and poor Michigan shot selection didn’t help anything.

  • gpsimms

    Zeph: Manny is “just” another daniel horton. Anyone else think this statement is funny?

  • Other Matt


    eHigh Five to you. I dunno, in my slightly younger days (I’m 25) this kind of loss would have had me catatonic for days. I’ve come to appreciate the ride, so to speak. As a kid my fandom was filled with stomach punching losses. When I was real little, I was a Pirates fan too (I have family in the Burgh) and one of my earliest memories is Sid F-ing Bream. Over time, I migrated to the local teams (except the Steelers, that one’s in your blood). Everything was sadness until the Pistons in 2004. I’m not a huge hockey fan, so the Wings don’t really do it for me. I root for them and all, but they’re a distant last on my list.

    I think I’ve come to the realization that games like this, and seasons like we endured under Amaker, and being too young to understand what the Webber time out meant, and the Rich Rodriguez era thus far, well they make the good days better. So I can take these kind of losses as long as there’s better days ahead. And I happen to believe in John Beilein, so I’m not too down about what’s happening.

    I know I’m not a regular around here, so I’m sorry for the personal back story, I just figured I’d try talking some people off the ledge.

  • gpsimms

    and one other sunshine commment from me….

    when is the last time this team has not pulled out a must win big ten game? we said one of the next couple, so they won’t win until it’s one of the next one they have to win.

    that is the way this team has operated. i bet we get one of the next two “must wins” still. we can get upset about loing this game because we had it, and i totally am….but we can also say we had WISCONSIN by the balls on the ROAD and we can win some games no one thinks we can. GO BLUE! i dont get drunk on wednesdays, ha, except when michigan plays like this.

    between the big words peedi uses in press conferences and the time manny accidentally told the press the team locker combination, and academic all big ten and stu and zack as true freshman helping this team make the tournament, and zach gibson comin up huge against UCOON, and Clemson, and Oklamhoma; and darius being a freshman who still wants the ball at the end of the game, LLP coming up huge at the weirdest times, and Ant occasionally making a 3 we really need, and Beilein making me a believer.

    We’re gonna mkae a run a the big dance this year. Still. Believe it, it’s going to be just like last year. We will make or miss it by the skin of our teeth because this team wins must-win games.

    OK, that’s my pep talk. goodnight all.

  • gpsimms

    dammit dylan, when you gonna hook this site up with spell(drunk)-check?

  • gpsimms

    oh! and I didn’t even mention when everyone said we need one of the two road games that everyone would agree purdue was by far the more winnable of the two…

  • AG2

    Ok, time to put this one out of my head. Let’s go to West Lafayette and try again.

    I find it interesting that people say Sims disappears sometimes and plays big in other times. Its almost like there’s Deshawn Sims and his alter ego, Peedi.

    Peedi, you’re going to have the chance to say what you wanna say on the court at Crisler soon.

  • Tweeter

    yea i officially decided to make tomorrow a sick day or at least a half day (with the half being the afternoon hours) – I aint in any condition to work tomorrow morning.

    But I disagree gpsimms. I thought this game was more winnable than the purdue game all along. Wisky is a very average team right now without Leuer. Thats why this was so important and hurts so much. We had an opportunity (a great opportunity) to beat a ranked team, at a place they never lose, who was really not that good of a team. Those opportunities dont come around that much and we blew it.

    Obviously, if the team goes out and beats Purdue or MSU, than this doesnt matter nearly as much. But its just fustrating as all hell right now.

    We know this team is not great. We know they have their issues. But damnit, they are better than that Wisky team. They are better than Northwestern. They are better than Indiana. They are better than B.C. They are better than Utah. They are better than Alabama. I just wish these players would realize what it takes to be succesful.

    I remember watching Duke back in, I think ’96. They had a team very similar to this Michigan team in terms of size and athleticism and talent. They had like one or two guys that were any good, and a bunch of has beens and non-athletes at the rest of the spots. But damnit they played their asses off. They competed every second because they cared about what Duke was and the fact that they were wearing that jersey. If you looked at the team when they walked on teh floor, you would have thought that everyone would roll right over them. But in fact they made teams look bad at times with pure grit and determination. It was crazy impressive.

    We see that on occassion with this UM team. When they put it together and play D, and scrap, and act like they care, teams look real bad against us. But then we just turn it off. We decide that a 13-2 lead on the road is good enough. That being up 17 on NW halfway thru the first half is good enough. That letting some no-talent random dude from Utah shoot open threes all day is good enough, because we know we are better than them.

    Well you know what. Its not good enough anymore. Ive reached the breaking point with these guys. I see some players pouring their hearts out on the floor and not getting it done at a high level simply because they dont have the talent to compete, and I see other players going through motions because they think they are better. And its not just Manny Harris. There have been plenty of times when Sims has not been there at all either this season.

    But this is it. Loafing, going through the motions, half-assing it, whatever you want to call it, that time is gone now. If you want to have any kind of season what so ever. The last chance is here. Win now, or forever hold your peace. Go down like so many of the talented players before you have. But realize that many of those players went down because they had poor direction. They had to do it on their own because no one told them what the hell they were supposed to do.

    You guys got direction. You have a plan. You have organization. You have opportunity. But that opportunity is walking out the door mighty quickly, and guess what, that door is locking behind it. You got basically one chance to stop it. Its going to take more than just a half of basketball. Or you thinking that letting the game come to you, means not trying for a half then forcing it every time you touch it the other half.

    There’s no more last stand after this.

  • Drew

    Jeez it’s usually week nights like this when I’m the one who’s feeling it after a few beers and writing something outta my a*s. Haha gpsimms, is that actually the Mike Greenberg from Monday talking… “UCOON”.

    Regardless, I’m sober and still pissed. All other circumstances and theories about what games we need to win aside, we were up 9 after two HUGE threes from Stu in the second half. At that point, a competent team BURIES the opponent. That should have taken the life out of them. But we let them immediately back in the game, and folded. Damn.

  • KDavis

    Sims and Harris combined for 34 points and 19 rebounds. On the season, they average roughly 37 points and 13 rebounds. Sure, Manny didn’t have a “Manny” game, but combined, it was what it’s basically been all season. Plenty of games this year, Manny picked up the slack when DeShawn disappeared.

    My problem is a starter who doesn’t score and 1 (one, uno) point from the bench. To me, it’s not an issue of Manny having a bad game. It’s the on-going struggle to find just one more person on this team to earn their scholarship and to do it fairly consistently. It’s one thing to miss 3s, it’s another to blow layups.

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  • KDavis

    I can’t sleep. I can’t get over the fact that Stu, LLP, Novak, Gibson, Morris, Wright, and Vogrich COMBINED for 12 points. Seven D-1 basketball players, who all see (some limited/some substantial) playing time, 12 points.


  • Tossed and turned all night..what a loss..ugh

  • Joel

    I’m sick of this team flirting with the chance of getting a tournament bid. I mean we could be 6-0 in the Big Ten right now. I’m so disgusted by this loss – I turned the game on when we were up 39-33 in the 2nd – I guess I should’ve left it off, maybe I jinxed us! I was excited we had the lead – till about 20 seconds later, when I knew we were going to blow it. I was trying to stay positive but it was all-too predictable. And the refereeing…I know we can’t blame the refs for losing, but that charge on Sims with 2:30ish to go was absolute HORSE$#%&, and came a pivetal moment. Biggest f&$%ing flop I’ve seen in my life – the guys is up leaning against DeShaun one second, that Sims backs up MAYBE an inch an the guy launches backwards, and they get the call – it was like the ref was waiting to call it. I think there’s something to the correllation between the officiating and the home win-streak…

    Novak, ugh, 36 minutes without scoring, 0-6, and from what I’ve read several missed lay-ups?? That’s unacceptable for a starter, or any player. Manny didn’t have that great a game either but I don’t think you can place the blame squarely on him. We have to learn to CLOSE OUT! I know we still mathmatically have a chance at the tournament, but really, does anyone think we’re actually going to make it? I’d say we pretty have to 9-3 to close the season, to put us at 19-11, 12-6. Mmmmaybe 8-4, but God knows we’re not going to win the B10 tourney, so that gives us 13 losses to end the season, and I don’t know if that’ll fly. I will say that besides Michigan St, we can beat anyone in the conference, but we’re either going to have to get really lucky or start playing A LOT better, probably both.

    I’ll watch the Purdue game but right now I can’t even think about it – this loss is painful and we by all means should’ve won that game. What garbage, blech…

    BTW hi everybody, I’m kind of new here. Hopefully you don’t mind my rant – just had to vent a little there lol.

  • Jeff

    I think this season can best be described with two words-missed opportunities. Last night was another one. Wisconsin played as poorly as they’re capable of playing for the first 15 minutes, but we blew chance after chance to put them away. Once again they gave us a glimmer of hope and then dropped us on our heads. Harris had his worst game of the season, Douglass and Novak couldn’t make point-blank layups, there was the requisite homecooking from the refs, and our lack of leadership was obvious late in the game. The season in a nutshell.

  • gpsimms

    if anyone was wondering, it’s 8.42 and i am no longer feeling optimistic.

  • maxwell’s demon

    gpsimms – Agreed. At some point we have to stop judging the team on what we think they can do and instead judge them by what they’ve actually shown us.

    And as far as last night, a lot of people have been assigning Manny blame and I agree but not because we needed him to make big plays down the stretch. We didn’t build our lead because of Manny, he was not much a factor for 35 minutes of that game. But then all the sudden the final stretch begins and everything has to go through him. And guess what, all the sudden the offense couldn’t do anything. In a game where Manny is playing his A game of course it makes sense to have him take over at the end. But this wasn’t the case last night, we abandoned what was working and we lost because of it.

  • gpsimms

    oh by the way, no more player-specific features! every time you write one, the featured player turns in a worst-of-career type performance

  • bluejays

    On McLimans: whenever I see that 6’10” ginger kid stand up from the bench to awkwardly applaud a UM bucket, I shudder and think, “So this is what JB considers a big man?”

    Why can’t we just forget national recruiting and just take the whole Country day high school team when they graduate? We’d probably be better!

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