This afternoon we continue our trek through the state of Michigan as we get you ready for the Big Ten basketball season. The shadow from East Lansing to Ann Arbor has continued to shrink over the last few seasons as Wolverine head coach John Beilein develops the Michigan program into a respectable foe. Last year, it started rough for the Maize and Blue, but after a tournament berth and the season sweep of the rival Spartans, things are looking bright for the ‘little brother’ of college basketball.
Last year’s team didn’t have any seniors, but gone is leading scorer and distributor Darius Morris, who declared early for the NBA Draft and was selected by his hometown L.A. Lakers with the 41st overall pick. If this team can respond to losing their heart and soul on offense, then should be a favorite to finish near the top of the Big Ten Standings.
The way the season finished for the Wolverines, it’s hard to imagine that they went 1-6 to start the Big Ten campaign and at times could not find a rhythm on the court. After a big upset of Michigan State at the Breslin, the Wolverines got on a roll and ended up winning 10 of their last 14 ballgames.
With the hot streak, the Wolverines went dancing for the second straight season. As a no. 8 seed entering the tournament, the Wolverines opened up with a tough no.9 seeded Tennessee team. At the end of the day, Michigan played their best game of the season, winning by 30 (75-45) — the biggest margin in tournament history in the 8/9 match up. Up by four at the half, Darius Morris and company came out on a 19-2 run and literally became the dagger that ended the violation filled era of Volunteer basketball under Bruce Pearl. The most impressive factor in the game was Tennessee’s obvious advantage of strength, athletic ability, and interior play. Yet Michigan scored twice as many players in the paint, out rebounded the Volunteers by ten, an dominated on defense by holding them scoreless for 5 + minutes twice in the second half.
In game number two of the NCAA tournament against the Duke Blue Devils, the Wolverines looked over matched. With just less than 7:00 left in the game, they were down 12. It what was the greatest display of character, fight and heart of last year’s tournament. Down throughout most of the game, Michigan weathered the Blue Devil storm late, as Tim Hardaway Jr. scored seven unanswered to close the gap to one with 1:30 remaining in the game.
With :9 seconds left on the clock, Duke’s Nolan Smith missed his second free throw to keep it a 2 point game (73-71). The basketball was rebounded by Michigan’s Zach Novak and kicked out to Darius Morris who drove the floor and put up a floater from the free throw line with 3 seconds left that clanked off the back iron.
The Wolverines didn’t quite make it to the Sweet Sixteen, but they ended the season with a bang. An all-around effort that grounded the foundation for a building program and solidified their identity heading into this season.
Like ‘em or hate ‘em, The Michigan Wolverines will be a top tier team in the Big Ten this season.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines butted heads exactly one year to the day after the Evan Turner dagger in last year’s Big Ten Tournament. Michigan did a great job making a comeback from down 18, falling 68-61 to the #1 seeded Buckeyes. Sullinger recorded another double double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Buford led the Buckeyes with 16 points. With the win, the Buckeyes improved to 7-0 in the Big Ten Semifinals all time, and 31-2 for the season.
Diebler started hot for the Buckeyes, but not in his usual way. Diebler made his mark scoring the first two baskets for the Buckeyes inside the three point arc, including a nice driving layup. Not surprisingly, a lot of that was caused by Michigan playing tight, aggressive defense on Sullinger in the paint.
Early on, Sullinger seemed to rush his shots and not play with his usual calm and collected demeanor. It was clear that Michigan’s defensive concept was to use Morgan to force Sullinger out of his comfort zone. If that didn’t work, they switched to a quick double team when Sullinger got the ball in the low paint. The strategy seemed to frustrate Sullinger early.
Day 2 of the Big Ten Tournament brought a close call for the Bucks, but after pulling out the win over Northwestern, Ohio State now turns its attention to the Wolverines of Michigan. Going into Day 3 of the tournament, Ohio State should be back in rhythm and ready to go. It will be important to get going early against Michigan, who likely solidified their entrance into the NCAA Tournament with their win today over Illinois (while in all probability also ending the Illini’s chances of making the NCAA’s). Good job Michigan! Oh, by the way…
Michigan won’t be as forgiving as Northwestern if Ohio State comes out of the gate with abysmal shooting once again. The truly good news for the Buckeyes from today’s game was that despite their poor shooting from the floor, they were knocking down the free throw’s with consistency. A really good formula for improving their field goal percentage for their game against Michigan would be to get back to the free throw line. By picking up fouls early (particularly by pounding it inside to Sullinger), Ohio State should be in good shape to both get the Wolverine big men in foul trouble and find their shooting touch in the first half. Read More
The Michigan Wolverines visited Columbus on Thursday night and gave the Buckeyes all they could handle, but in the end Ohio State prevailed to move to 23-0 on the 2010-11 season. After a brutal first half for the Buckeyes, the team came out in the second half and steadily got it together as the game wore on, finishing off the Wolverines down the stretch and protecting their undefeated streak. The Schott was rocking on a night that saw Ohio State gut out a good win over yet another Big Ten opponent that gave the Buckeyes their best shot.
As the game got started, it looked as though Ohio State was going to blow out the Wolverines. Coming off a close win over Northwestern, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 7-0 lead before two minutes had ticked by on the clock. However, Michigan came storming back on stellar play from star guard Darius Morris. The first half continued, and Ohio State’s rhythm disappeared, being replaced by a bevy of turnovers and bricks. Both David Lighty and Aaron Craft picked up two fouls partway through the first and were forced to the bench. Ohio State managed to keep it close, but went into halftime trailing 26-23. Read More
We’ve already had a pregame glance at Michigan this season, so you can consider this a pregame double-take. Back on January 12th the Buckeyes traveled North to take on the Wolverines in a game that you may better remember as The Brady Hoke Arrival Showdown Memorial Roundball Classic. In that earlier contest Ohio State picked up their 17th victory of the season on a hard-fought 68-64 win, battling through some crafty Michigan defense, a second-half scoring drought, and a Wolverine run near the end of the game that made it a bit close for comfort.
That game came in the middle of a particularly bad stretch for Michigan, as they had dropped their two games prior to facing the Buckeyes (Wisconsin, Kansas) and proceeded to drop their next three games after the Buckeyes left town (Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota). More recently the Wolverines have started to turn it around, picking up wins over Michigan State and Iowa to give some new life to their tournament hopes. The win over the Spartans could be an especially significant confidence-booster for the Wolverines, as they hadn’t defeated Tom Izzo’s team on their four previous encounters, and hadn’t won in Lansing since 1997. Read More