BTT Semifinals: Michigan vs. Ohio State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Photo: Detroit News

Michigan’s late season turnaround has been defined by poise but the Wolverines let that poise slip away this afternoon. Michigan had clawed back into the game, cutting the Ohio State lead to just two points, before unraveling long enough to see the game spiral out of control. Michigan allowed mistakes and frustration to snowball to the point of affecting subsequent plays. A couple timely baskets by Ohio State combined with those mistakes led to a 16-0 Ohio State run over five minutes that put the game out of reach. 

The Wolverines will leave Indianapolis with a bitter taste in their mouths but there’s no denying that they took care of business at Conseco Fieldhouse. Michigan appears to have cemented an NCAA tournament bid and even reached the 20 win mark that Darius Morris predicted in January – when Michigan was four or five games under .500 in Big Ten play.

Offensively, Michigan scored 1 point per possession on the nose but a lot of that production was during Michigan’s late run. The Wolverines had an effective field goal percentage of just 45% – 43% on twos, 31% on threes – which just isn’t good enough to pull off an upset of this magnitude. Michigan did a good job limiting turnovers – 15% turnover rate – and even rebounded an above average 29% of their missed shots but that wasn’t enough to make up for the below average shooting.

While the offense falls under acceptable, the defense wasn’t good enough to receive a passing mark. Ohio State shot the ball well – 50% on twos, 36% on threes – and lived at the free throw line. The Buckeyes attempted 23 free throws but only made 13, one of the primary reasons that Michigan was able to hang around. Michigan was unable to force many turnovers and allowed Ohio State to grab far too many offensive rebounds (35% off rebounding percentage). The most painful aspect of the poor defensive rebounding was that almost every offensive rebound, Sullinger had 6, resulted in free throws or an easy layup for the Buckeyes.

Now the Wolverines wait until Sunday evening. Michigan will host a public viewing party at Crisler Arena beginning at 5 p.m. The Wolverines should feel very good about their chances of being selected, the only question seems to be where they end up and who they play.

Player Bullets:

  • Darius Morris: Morris was aggressive early and scored a number of huge baskets for Michigan but he was one of the main culprits for the Wolverines second half unraveling. Aaron Craft and Morris were banging on each other and eventually Craft seemed to get under Morris’ skin. Darius finished with 16 points (6-13, 1-1 3pt), three assists, five turnovers, and a steal.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan missed a handful of bunnies – 3 of 6 for 6 pts – but he did a good job battling Sullinger on the block. In 21 minutes Morgan notched two blocks, a steal and even a pair of assists.
  • Evan Smotrycz: Michigan needed Evan’s range to stretch the Ohio State defense but he couldn’t provide much until late in the game. Smotrycz finished with 9 points on 3 of 8 (3-5 3pt) shooting with just one rebound. Evan tried to drive on Sullinger a few times but couldn’t convert either attempt.
  • Zack Novak: Novak couldn’t find his shot early on, but did make two threes during Michigan’s late comeback, and just seemed a bit off. Zack did grab six rebounds, two assists, and a steal but Michigan really needed his scoring punch early on.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass missed a couple threes that felt like they would have been monumental makes and finished the game with 7 points on 3 of 8 (1-6 3pt) shooting with four rebounds, one assist, and two turnovers.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway had his patented second half stretch where he shoots Michigan back into the game, cutting the deficit to two points, but it was too early in the game and not quite enough. Final stats: 15 points on 5 of 14 (2-9 3pt) shooting with four rebounds.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich grabbed a remarkable six rebounds, with five on the defensive end, in 19 minutes of playing time. Matt isn’t the strongest or most athletic guy on the court by any means but he has a nose for the ball.

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  • Tweeter

    The Michigan of the East three seconds away from the tournament. Need one stop.

    • Tweeter

      wow, gut shot at the buzzer

      • A Tommy Amaker team gets its Tournament hopes crushed.

        • BeileinsBricks

          Yup, we’ve seen this story before. After all the occasions when this has happened to him, it’s no longer a coincidence or simply bad luck.

        • Jeff

          I was rooting for the guy. Bummer.

  • Brian W

    Information on the free NCAA selection event at Crisler. The doors of Crisler Arena will open at 5 p.m., with the selection show starting at 6 p.m. If you can make it, should be fun.

  • Fred_Ex

    All together we played a good game against the #1 team in the nation. Our youth showed letting the frustration of bad calls, manifest into pointless fouls. It was good to see some heart out of the guys though you could tell they wanted this one bad. Someone mentioned something about manufacturing a star regarding Sullinger. I agree completely. And I mean that.

    In the first half when Morgan went around Sullinger and made the cleanest steal ever!!! the announcer made a comment like oh he is as big as an 18 wheeler there is no possible way to get around him without committing a foul, yet in the second half he is as nimble as a ferry gracefully sliding in front of D-Mo and taking the charge from a guy probably close to half his weight.

    Watching the love affair between the blob and the officiating makes me sick. If you watch the NW quarter finals game they literally called a foul on every missed shot he had. And I’m completely wrong but it seemed like they were trying to get OSU back in the game. Again today, the officiating only go better (I should say fairer) when we were down and seemingly out of the game. Once we claw our way back, then Sullinger takes a Charge and then right before our very eyes literally throws the ball out of bounds and yet OSU ball. Lol, there was one point I had an older guy turn to me and say during the NW/OSU game and say with calls like this he could win player of the year.

  • Mattski

    Missed the game, regret the loss. I’ll bet we can move several rounds in the tourney. Who is it being speculated will be up first?

  • Beast1530

    Darius Morris has a tendency to do too much and dribble the air out of the ball when he’s frustrated. That’ll change with experience.

    Jordan Morgan needs to develop low post moves and mid-range jumper. It’s getting harder for Michigan to have a rhythm on offense especially when their 3 point shooting aren’t falling. The offense were noticeably better with Smotrycz at center because of his ability to stretch defense with his shooting.

    • BeileinsBricks

      Darius won’t have to dribble the air out of the ball when there’s a couple of other guys on the team that can actually drive to the hoop and score. Unfortunately, Darius lost his cool today and he stopped playing smart. I hope Burke and Brundidge are ready to play next year, that way it’ll take pressure off of Darius. Plus, Timmy has to work on his handle over the summer. Amazing that with one guy that can handle the ball and drive to the hole this team won 20 games.

      • Brundidge can get to the rim. Burke is more of a shooter.

        • BeileinsBricks

          Burke’s got a handle and he can finish inside as well. He’s not the bull that Brundidge is, but he finishes well when he drives. The most important thing is that he has a handle, though. It’ll be good to have more than one player who can handle the ball and actually finish when he drives.

          • Nick

            The important thing is that Darius improves his range. I have no doubt that he will be very strong next season (esp. if he hangs with J. Wall all summer again) from “beyond the arc”. I love his strength and length. He’s what drives this team right now and the program in general. But, THJ has skillz (has to say it)

  • jmblue

    Morgan’s starting to turn into a bit of a shot blocker. He has six in his last four games after just 12 in the first 29.

    • Nice stat. Hadn’t heard that, I wonder if he’s made a conscious effort to try to block more shots instead of fouling. In any case, this is a pleasant development.

  • I did not see a box score but was curious. Did Sullinger end up with any fouls? It sure seemed like he was the Michael Jordan of the Big Ten the way the game was called. Not saying that it cost us the game but it sure changed the momentum was we cut the lead to 2 with about 8 minutes left in the game.

    • Joel

      Sullinger had a whole 1 foul

  • Alex

    Quick question, why is Michigan 51st in RPI on Warren Nolan and 44th in RPI on Statsheet? Both look like they are up to date and it’s a pretty simple formula so im curious about the discrepancy.

    Either way we are now 6-9 vs. The top 50 RPI which looks a lot better than a week ago when it was only 3.

  • AG2

    There are a lot of mid-majors hovering near the cut line, which ones will will get bids ahead of the major conference bubble teams? Is Illinois less safe than PSU now?

    • Beast1530

      I think that Illini is still in. Their RPI and SOS are really high and they have a couple of quality wins.

      PSU is borderline. Obviously, they win tomorrow, there will be 7 big 10 teams in the tourney.

      • jmblue

        PSU has to get in now. They have 12 wins against B10 competition and only two of those are against IU/Iowa (they had the toughest schedule draw in the league).

      • Jeff

        I think PSU is in good shape too. Lunardi had them as the last team in, before the MSU win, they’ll move up several spots. I think the Big Ten is getting seven now. Unbelievably soft bubble this year.

  • Jeff

    Amazing finish in the Washington/Arizona game. Big shot after big shot, including a buzzer beater.

    • BeileinsBricks

      The best part is Gus Johnson was going nuts. What a great game and that Isiah Thomas kid is money.

      • Jeff

        Yeah, it was cool to tune in to see the end of a game I could care less about, that turned out to be a great finish. I just enjoyed the game without worrying about who was going to win.

  • mike the original

    Meh.. I don’t mind not playing three games in three days. We’re in the dance. Let’s rest, get our heads together, get back to campus, and stay hungry. Good showing, good experience, took care of business and can now gear up for NCAAs. I’m plesed

  • Frank

    What about Michigan’s terrible passing. A lot of the passes were predictable, lackluster, and subsequently intercepted. Very disappointing.


    Simply, as a fan of basketball I find Jared Sullinger can be very boring to watch. He makes some great shots, but they are 90% in the paint and over players shorter than him. It just makes for a boring dynamic on the court. Sure, he’s athletic and gets rebounds that most college players wouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean the commentators need to say how amazing he is when the ball literally bounces off the rim right into his hands. Maybe it’s just me, but I find big men like him to be incredibly dull when I’m watching them. OSU can be a pretty electric team with the outside shooters they have, but his play style is far from being electric.

    • Tweeter

      i kinda disagree and agree. Generally, watching a back to basket post player can be boring, however, I find Sullinger is fun to watch because he is so athletic for a guy his size. Plus he has very good footwork. I love seeing big guys abuse someone in the post with a great spin move or drop step.

      I do agree that it is not as electric as watching some guard fly down the lane and dunk the ball over three people. But for me, it’s kinda like the debate between watching a team like the Fab Five and watching a really well coached, fundamentally sound team play. There are a lot more oooh’s and aaaah;s when watching a Fab Five type team, but it is much more pleasing, or maybe fulfilling, to watch a team just pick apart an opponent with great passing and smart play.

  • Tweeter

    How is the field going to be released tomorrow? Usually they show the top four seeds first, then move from bracket to bracket. With the new format, will they show top four, then the play in games, followed by bracket to bracket? Or will they just follow the same format and show the play-in games as they go thru each bracket?

    • bird

      What an interesting thing to be wondering in the middle of the night. I’ll guess that they show the play-ins as they go through each bracket.

      • Mith

        I think bird is probably right. It’ll deflate some of the drama for the bubble teams to reveal the last 4 in right away. But who knows?

  • michiganvic

    I like how the commentators for our game yesterday had Ohio state already playing the next day, matta pulls most of his starters and then in a minute we drop their lead from 17 down to 5 with 55 seconds left. Steve kerr and Jim Nance apologize to matta and the buckeyes for putting them in the next bracket. What about apologizing to the never say quit wolverines for disrespecting them/us like that on national tv. It would b sweet revenge if we could meet them in the ncaas at some point. Go blue.