It’s hard to write previews without focusing too much on the most recent couple of games. It’s just as hard to muster optimism during a losing streak as it is to get carried away with the notion of momentum after a couple wins. Momentum means something, you’d rather go into a game playing good basketball, but its importance is dramatically overblown. 22 games into the season, it’s safe to say that teams have built up sufficient resumes to judge their entire body of work. Michigan heads to Columbus tonight with momentum after a pair of wins but the reward is a match-up with the nation’s consensus No. 1.
The simple two step recipe hasn’t changed for the Buckeyes. Step 1: Give the ball to Jared Sullinger on the block and watch him work. Step 2: Kick it out to the stable of talented wing players and let them shoot it. It’s easy to game plan when you have one of the top three players in the nation and it’s even easier when you have four players that shoot over 40% from three point range to surround him.
If you don’t know the rules you can read them here. Here the pool for the Ohio State game:
Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Tim Hardaway Jr., Matt Vogrich, Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan
Please remember to use the same name and e-mail address that you have used for previous games or your selection will not be counted toward your overall tally. You are welcome to join in at anytime but you might have some catching up to do if you missed earlier games.
One of the most common subject lines that graces my inbox is “why can’t Beilein’s “shooters” shoot?” A close second would be “WHY WON’T MICHIGAN PLAY TWO BIG MEN AT THE SAME TIME?”
Throughout the first several years of the John Beilein era, the concern has been valid. Despite shooting a larger proportion of three point shots than most other teams in the country, Beilein has yet to field an above average three point shooting team in Ann Arbor. Early on this season, it appeared that Michigan was ready to fire up more missed threes. At the end of November, six games into the season, Michigan was shooting just under 30% from long range. Half way through December, 11 games into the season, the Wolverines were still shooting just 31% on threes. Despite that sluggish start, Michigan has consistently improved into an average to above average three point shooting team. Don’t believe me, here’s a chart:
This improvement is encouraging for a number of reasons. Most impressively, a bulk of the improvement has come versus quality competition in conference play. This isn’t about Michigan padding its shooting stats versus the likes of North Carolina Central or Concordia, Michigan has shot the ball well versus conference foes. Michigan is shooting 39.2% from three point range in conference play, a stat that ranks fourth among Big Ten teams. Michigan has managed to post this respectable percentage despite attempting the second most threes in the league (and an average of 56 more than than the three teams ahead percentage wise). More numbers and thoughts after the jump.
Southfield responded with a blowout win over North Farmington and Brundidge had 18, 13 in the first half. Southfield is 8-3 and first in the OAA with a 5-1 conference record.
MAS left this report in the comments:
As for Brundidge, he had a rough shooting night missing shots I normally see him hit. He finished with 15 points on 5 for 18 (3 or 4 forced shots) shooting. The big positive was he was able to get his shot off against a very good athlete Knight that is 6-3 or 4 and is a D-1 WR prospect for football. CB quickness allowed him to create some open shots.
In honor of Darius’ career night, we had to expand “five key plays” to include a video featuring Morris’ triple double in its entirety (big thanks to Josh Houchin who put these videos together, again). The sophomore guard controlled the game at both ends of the floor and was the main reason Michigan was able to play at the pace they wanted to despite Iowa’s tendency to push the ball. When the Hawkeyes pressured Darius to force him into turnovers, he simply found the open man, nearly every time (though the great dish to Jordan Morgan from almost half court immediately comes to mind). He made some tough (and flashy) passes all game but credit also needs to be given to Michigan’s shooters — Tim Hardaway Jr., Matt Vogrich and Evan Smotrycz did a great job of finishing from beyond the arc. The rebounding was great, but largely a product of the game plan, implemented by the assistants: bigs focus on boxing out, let the guards clean up. Darius scored, dished, and cleaned up nice for the third triple-double in Michigan history (and second in two years!). [click to continue…]
College Basketball’s One-Man Gangs
Darius Morris gets props in the Wall Street Journal who points out that Morris is responsible for major conference best 53.4% of Michigan’s made field goals. Yes, that’s more than Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker.
Look At Them Now: Darius Morris
Sean Ceglinsky (who actually tipped us off about Morris’ commitment two and a half years ago) penned a nice ESPN feature on Morris’ improvement including a couple quotes from Demetrius Calip.
Everything slow is new again
John Gasaway explains that near-upsets in slow paced games aren’t due to the tempo but merely underdogs playing exceptionally well. So lets show restraint before proclaiming that Michigan’s slow tempo means an upset is likely at Value City Arena.
Big Ten Midseason Report Card
Brent Yarina puts together some all-Big Ten teams half way through the season. He named Morris most improved, put Hardaway on the all-freshman team, and gave Michigan a ‘B-‘ grade overall.
Crashing the Dance
Our favorite mathematician bracketologist is back in action. He has seven Big Ten teams in the dance right now.