After coasting to a 10-2 start, Michigan is starting to feel the burn of conference play. The Wolverines have trudged along to a 1-4 record over the last five games with the four losses against teams with a Pomeroy ranking in the top 15. Regardless of who was on the schedule, a 1-4 slump is still a 1-4 slump and this team is desperately treading water in need of a win. The Wolverines will travel to Bloomington, where they’ve won just three times over the last 25 years, in search of that second Big Ten victory.
The good news for Michigan fans is that Indiana is in even worse shape. The Hoosiers appeared to be on the right track with a 9-2 start but have lost six straight games over the past three weeks. The common denominator during the losing streak has been terrible defense. Indiana has surrendered a staggering 1.20 points per possession as opponents ranging from solid to exceptional have carved up the Hoosier defense.
We’ll try another open round for this game but we reserve to right to implement a pool structure if the same player wins every game. Picks are due by tip off.
Remember that you must use the same name and e-mail address that you used in previous rounds. People that did not participate previously are welcome to participate, they will just have one less chance at scoring points.
Inside the Hall might be the best team specific college basketball site on the internet so we were pleased that they agreed to participate in a pre-game question and answer in preparation for Michigan’s trip to Assembly Hall this weekend. We not only have input from one Hoosier expert we have two, with Alex Bozich and Zach Osterman both answering a handful of questions. You can find my answers to their questions over on their site by clicking this link
Through early conference play, Indiana has the worst defense in the league and is allowing opponents to score 1.26 points per possession. Is the defense really this bad? What is your explanation?
Osterman: There are a few answers to this question, chiefly among them defensive communication. Indiana seems to struggle with it, something that Tom Crean has bemoaned more than once over the past few weeks. Against Northwestern that lack of communication was evident in defending in transition, which Indiana did not excel in at all. Players who should not have been left alone in transition (like John Shurna) were. Post defense is also a rather large problem. Indiana’s best post defender, Tom Pritchard, doesn’t offer nearly as much offensively as either Christian Watford or Derek Elston. But the latter two, for different reasons, aren’t nearly so reliable defensively. Help defense has also been inconsistent, and moving with ball movement has given Indiana problems, opening up 3-point looks for opponents. Those are but a few answers to that question, but they are maybe the most noticeable.
It may not have been pretty, but Michigan exhibits great patience versus Ohio State’s zone on this play. Darius Morris was left with the ball at the end of the shot clock and had to make something happen. Here, he has the attention of essentially three Ohio State players: Jared Sullinger, David Lighty and Aaron Craft. His goal is to force the zone to collapse and kick out to a shooter and that’s what he does. He makes a slight move to the post and draws Lighty, leaving Hardaway open for the triple. Hardaway banks it in and just like that breaks an almost 2-minute scoring drought and ties the game. This shot, along with Evan Smotrycz’s 3-pointer, allowed Michigan to finish the half strong and remain in striking distance down just one point. [click to continue…]
Most teams are just four games into the Big Ten season but here are some random statistics that stand out for Michigan early on. Almost all of the team stats referenced in this post refer to conference-only numbers — even if it is a bit early.
Rebounding: Michigan is rebounding 74.3% of its opponents missed shots which is tied for second best in the Big Ten. On the other hand, the Wolverines are rebounding just 18.5% of their missed shots, worst in the Big Ten by a significant margin.
It’s a bit appalling just how bad Michigan is on the offensive glass but this is also by design. Like it or not, John Beilein’s teams are not going to crash the glass and this one is no different.
On the defensive end there’s a lot to be excited about and this doesn’t appear to be a four game anomaly as Michigan ranks second in defensive rebounding over the etnire season as well. I wrote before the season that defensive rebounding was one of the keys this year which makes these numbers even more encouraging..