BTT Semifinals: Michigan vs. Ohio State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Ohio State 77, Michigan 55 - 21Ohio State 77, Michigan 55 - 15
: Dustin Johnston

Michigan was able to overcome a lackluster start against Minnesota with a dramatic comeback in the conference quarterfinals but Ohio State didn’t afford the Wolverines a similar luxury in the semifinal. The Buckeyes set the tone early, feeding the ball to Jared Sullinger and letting the All-American go to work. Sullinger scored eight of Ohio State’s first 10 points and helped the Buckeyes to an early 16-3 lead. The Buckeyes would never look back and things would never get better for the Wolverines.

Foul trouble, atypical turnovers, dreadful perimeter shooting and missed layups were just the start of Michigan’s problems. John Beilein said after the game that Ohio State played “as well as he’s seen a college team play” and at least a majority of that dominance was on the defensive end. Ohio State has now defended the Wolverines better than any other team on Michigan’s schedule, twice. The Buckeyes held the Wolverines to just .82 points per possession of scoring output with a 35% effective field goal percentage and forced turnovers on 27% of Michigan’s offensive possessions. All three of those statistics are among the one or two worst of the year and there’s only so many ways to say that Michigan played its worst game of the season.

For whatever reason, Michigan just didn’t have it today. A couple early breaks didn’t go their way – tough Ohio State makes, 50-50 balls and fouls, and missed open looks – and the Wolverines allowed the bad breaks to snowball. Ohio State was the better team, a team that could be peaking heading into the NCAA tournament, and thumped the Wolverines for a solid 40 minutes.

It’s discouraging to enter the NCAA tournament on the heels of your worst performance the season but Michigan doesn’t have a choice. Selection Sunday needs to rejuvenate and refocus this team heading into a Thursday or Friday NCAA tournament tilt. The Wolverines are 8-0 following losses and should have a manageable to draw to open tournament play – I don’t have a certification in bracketology but this shouldn’t drop the Wolverines off the 3-seed line. Conference tournaments generally don’t have much correlation to NCAA tournament results. For every 2011 UConn there’s a 2010 Michigan State that gets bounced from the first round and makes a Final Four run.

Ohio State 77, Michigan 55 - 29
: Dustin Johnston

Individual Quickhitters

Individual performances were underwhelming across the board so we’ll save the bullets. Trey Burke played the worst game of his career, scoring five points on 1-of-11 shooting with eight turnovers to four assists. Beilein and Burke insisted that tired legs weren’t an issue but Burke just never managed to find a groove of rhythm, something he attributed to Ohio State bracketing ball screens. One poor performance out of 32, it’s tough not to give him a pass.

Corey Person matched Stu Douglass as Michigan’s No. 3 scorer and it was just that kind of day. Matt Vogrich played with great energy, rebounding well, picking up a steal and doing a good job of finishing around the basket. He remains a potential x-factor in NCAA tournament play. Jordan Morgan was dominated by Sullinger, totaling just three points on 1-of-5 shooting with three turnovers and numerous misses around the basket. Zack Novak hit a pair of threes and had a pair of offensive put backs, providing his usaul effort, but he is also a big reason that Michigan has no answer for Deshaun Thomas (47 points in last two games versus Michigan). Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but four offensive rebounds is an encouraging statistic even if he failed to grab a defensive rebound and he did attack the basket and get to the free throw line.

  • Alex

    They will rebound. It has been a tough couple of days but they want to make a run of it and see how far they can go.

    It’s not going to be easy but I do think they are as capable as VCU, UConn, and Butler have been the last few years.

    They shouldn’t be expected to win the whole thing but they have the tools to make a deep run in a tourney format that is much better for our current team than back to back games.

    Four years ago nobody expected us to beat UCLA or Duke.

    Let’s just see if we can shock the world.

  • Mistersuits

    From a bracketology standpoint, Michigan is rooting for Cincinnati tonight (doesn’t look like that’s happening) and UNC over FSU tomorrow. Should both of those teams win, there will be a large enough pack of teams competing for the 3 seeds (Baylor, Marquette, Louisville as BE Tournament Champs, FSU as ACC Tournament champs, Georgetown, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan). Given that pool of teams, arguments could be made either way for a 3 or 4 seed.

    I would be shocked to see Michigan drop any lower than a 4. As a Michigan fan you have to hope that the tournament committee will weight today’s win more towards boosting Ohio to a #1 seed instead of dropping Michigan down off the 3-line.

    Either way, Coach B is going to be ready for the opening round game and with all of the mid-major tournament upsets, the 13-16 seeds are considerably weaker than they were looking a week ago.

  • Buford McBuford

    I thought that after the OSU win earlier this year, some of the national media started over-rating UM a bit (e.g. Luke Winn picking the Wolverines as one of the 8 teams with a chance to win the tournament), but I have a feeling that after this loss a lot of the media will be under-rating the Wolverines.  OSU has been playing up to their national championship contender ability the last couple of games, and Michigan had an awful shooting performance (admittedly influenced by some insane Buckeye D, but they were even missing relatively open threes). 

    I expect a lot of prognosticators will be picking Michigan as a weak high seed in danger of being knocked off early, but I still think the Wolverines can cause a ruckus at the dance.  Beilein teams usually overperform in the NCAA tourny, and guard play generally becomes more important there as well.  That said, I can certainly see them not making it past the opening weekend if they continue their poor play or get a particularly bad match-up.  The draw is going to be so huge for UM.  They really need to avoid strong offensive rebounding teams or teams with the D to consistently force perimeter shots (unless some of the Wolverines suddenly get hot from downtown, although if that happens UM becomes a major threat to anybody).

    • Scott1222

      Agreed….either some big boys or some long athletic boys can pose a problem on O and D glass…..

  • Scott1222

    I always try and keep the comments positive but just had a very simple question which I can’t figure out..and its too obvious for anyone never to really comment on…why does THJ always set shop hiding in each corner on offensive possessions?? He seems to hide in the corner very deep on every possession…and gets lost at times and mayb that contributes to a timid and nonaggressive attribute on offense at times…its almost to noticeable for anyone to not comment on..he runs down when we grab a defensive board and runs right to the side corner…practically out of bounds… I did like the move THJ made when he attacked the rim ready to thro down w 2 hands…but it just seems THJ is not asserting himself when standing in each far corner…hes practically hiding for some reason…and as we all kno he is very capable of taking over a game in a very short period of time…just dont understand why he seems to be hiding in the corners.

    • Scott1222

      Hardaway not hideaway….

  • Wayman Britt

    OSU looked very good.  We definitely have to improve our play over the last two games or we will get bounced in the first game no matter what the seed.

    Nobody played very well, but I was really disappointed in Morgan’s play.  For as muscular he is, it seems anybody can strip the ball out of his hands down low.  He still hasn’t learned how to go up strong.  I think he does not want to get fouled so he goes soft, because he knows he cannot shoot FT. 

  • Mattski

    That photo on the right helped to cheer me up right away–priceless. People had OSU picked as an early-season contender for the NC, they didn’t play well for much of the season, and got their mojo back over the last few games–we were standing in the way. Look for our plucky bunch to win two, possibly three games in the tournament.

    Personally, I hope that OSU clobbers MSU today.