photo AnnArborGIFHeader_zps02670880.gif

Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Michigan earns highest ranking since Feb. 3

Monday, March 3rd, 2014


Michigan vs Minnesota 3-1-14(MGoBlue.com)

Michigan’s win over Minnesota on Saturday afternoon combined with Michigan State’s loss to Illinois clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title for the Wolverines for the second time in three years. With two games remaining — at Illinois on Tuesday and home against a surging Indiana squad on Saturday — Michigan needs just one win to secure its first outright Big Ten title since 1986.

Saturday also saw losses by the number four, five, seven, nine, 10, 11, 15, 17, and 24 teams in the nation (in addition to the 18th-ranked Spartans). On Sunday, No. 22 Ohio State became the 11th top 25 team to fall over the weekend. March madness has truly arrived, which makes for plenty of movement in this week’s polls.

Michigan moved up four spots to 12th in both polls, the highest the Wolverines have been since the first week in February when they stood 10th. Wisconsin is still the highest ranked Big Ten team despite needing two wins and two Michigan losses this week to earn a share of the conference title. The Badgers are ninth in the AP Poll and 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Michigan State dropped to 22nd in both, while Iowa remained just inside at 24th and 25th, respectively. Ohio State fell out of both after losing both games last week.

As far as Michigan’s non-conference opponents, Arizona remained third in both polls, while Duke moved up to fourth in both. Iowa State continues to hover in the middle, this week at 16th and 17th.

Nebraska’s loss to Illinois last week dropped the Cornhuskers out of the RPI and Kenpom top 50, which takes away two of Michigan’s victories over top 50 teams. The Wolverines now have seven instead of nine. If the ‘Huskers can top Indiana and Wisconsin this week they’ll likely move back in for the final revision of the regular season.

As far as individuals are concerned, Nik Stauskas’ was edged out for Big Ten Player of the Week by Indiana’s Will Sheehey despite another big week with 15 points against Purdue and 21 against Minnesota. The senior Hoosier forward, who averaged just around 10 points per game, scored 30 points against Iowa and 19 against Ohio State. Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors with 13 points against Nebraska and eight against Michigan State. This is notable because Michigan plays both of these players this week, Nunn on Tuesday and Sheehey on Saturday.

The full national rankings are below.

AP Poll Coaches Poll
Rank Team Rank Team
1 Florida (27-2) 1 Florida (27-2)
2 Wichita State (31-0) 2 Wichita State (31-0)
3 Arizona (27-2) 3 Arizona (27-2)
4 Duke (23-6) 4 Duke (23-6)
5 Virginia (25-5) 5 Virginia (25-5)
6 Villanova (26-3) 6 Villanova (26-3)
7 Syracuse (26-3) 7 Syracuse (26-3)
8 Kansas (22-7) 8 Kansas (22-7)
9 Wisconsin (24-5) 9 Louisville (24-5)
10 San Diego State (25-3) 10 San Diego State (25-3)
11 Louisville (24-5) 11 Wisconsin (24-5)
12 Michigan (21-7) 12 Michigan (21-7)
13 Creighton (23-5) 13 Creighton (23-5)
14 North Carolina (22-7) 14 North Carolina (22-7)
15 Cincinnati (24-5) 15 Cincinnati (24-5)
16 Iowa State (22-6) 16 Saint Louis (25-4)
17 Saint Louis (25-4) 17 Iowa State (22-6)
18 Southern Methodist (23-6) 18 Southern Methodist (23-6)
19 UConn (23-6) 19 UConn (23-6)
20 Memphis (22-7) 20 Memphis (22-7)
21 New Mexico (22-5) 21 New Mexico (22-5)
22 Michigan State (22-7) 22 Michigan State (22-7)
23 Oklahoma (21-8) 23 Oklahoma (21-8)
24 Iowa (20-9) 24 Kentucky (21-8)
25 Kentucky (21-8) 25 Iowa (20-9)

Michigan holds steady in national rankings

Monday, February 3rd, 2014


Michigan vs Purdue(MGoBlue.com)

Michigan split its games last week, topping Purdue 75-66 on Thursday night and falling at Indiana 63-52 on Sunday afternoon. While Indiana is struggling this season, a win at Assembly Hall never a given and that was reflected in Michigan’s standing in this week’s national rankings.

In the AP Poll, Michigan stayed at 10th, one spot behind Michigan State which lost a non-conference game to Georgetown on Saturday. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, Michigan dropped two spots to 16th, in between Saint Louis and non-conference opponent Iowa State.

Only two other Big Ten foes are still ranked in both polls. MSU is ninth and eighth, while Iowa 17th and 13th. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State dropped out of the AP Poll but are still holding on in the Coaches at 24th and 25th, respectively.

As far as non-conference opponents, Arizona suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday and dropped to second in the AP and third in the Coaches. Duke stands at 11th in both polls after an overtime loss to new No.1 Syracuse. Iowa State ranks 16th and 17th.

Michigan has a chance to get back in the win column on Wednesday when it hosts Nebraska, but the big game will be Saturday at Iowa in a game that will either knock the Hawkeyes out of the Big Ten title race or make Michigan State the frontrunner.

The full national rankings are below.

AP Poll Coaches Poll
Rank Team Rank Team
1 Syracuse (21-0) 1 Syracuse (21-0)
2 Arizona (21-1) 2 Wichita State (23-0)
3 Florida (19-2) 3 Arizona (21-1)
4 Wichita State (23-0) 4 Florida (19-2)
5 San Diego State (19-1) 5 San Diego State (19-1)
6 Villanova (19-2) 6 Villanova (19-2)
7 Cincinnati (21-2) 7 Cincinnati (21-2)
8 Kansas (16-5) 8 Michigan State (19-3)
9 Michigan State (19-3) 9 Kansas (16-5)
10 Michigan (16-5) 10 Louisville (18-4)
11 Duke (17-5) 11 Duke (17-5)
12 Creighton (18-3) 12 Creighton (18-3)
13 Saint Louis (20-2) 13 Iowa (17-5)
14 Louisville (18-4) 14 Kentucky (16-5)
15 Texas (17-4) 15 Saint Louis (20-2)
16 Iowa State (16-4) 16 Michigan (16-5)
17 Iowa (17-5) 17 Iowa State (16-4)
18 Kentucky (16-5) 18 Texas (17-4)
19 Oklahoma State (16-5) 19 Oklahoma State (16-5)
20 Virginia (17-5) 20 Gonzaga (20-3)
21 Oklahoma (17-5) 21 Virginia (17-5)
22 Connecticut (17-4) 22 Pittsburgh (18-4)
23 Gonzaga (20-3) 23 Oklahoma (17-5)
24 Memphis (16-5) 24 Wisconsin (17-5)
25 Pittsburgh (18-4) 25 Ohio State (17-5)

Michigan ascends back into AP Top 10

Monday, January 27th, 2014


Michigan dance team vs Iowa(MGoBlue.com)

A week after re-entering the national rankings for the first time since the beginning of December, Michigan has ascended back into the top ten. An eight day span that included wins against three top ten teams – perhaps the best eight day span in program history – has put Michigan in control of the Big Ten title race and back in the national picture.

The Wolverines moved up 11 spots in each poll, from 21st to 10th in this week’s AP Poll and from 25th to 14th in the Coaches Poll. The team that Michigan beat on Saturday, Michigan State (18-2, 7-1), dropped from third in both polls to seventh in the AP and sixth in the Coaches. Iowa (16-4, 5-2) dropped to 15th and 12th, while Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3) fell out of the top ten to 14th and 13th. Ohio State (16-4, 3-4) had the Big Ten’s biggest free fall of the week, dropping to the bottom of the rankings at 24th and 23rd, respectively.

As far as Michigan’s non-conference opponents, Arizona (20-0) remains No.1 in both polls; Iowa State (15-3) stands at 16th and 18th; and Duke (16-4) is 17th and 16th.

In addition to shooting up the rankings, Michigan hauled in several weekly awards. Nik Stauskas was named Big Ten Player of the Week and also CBSSports.com’s Player of the Week after averaging 22.5 points 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and one steal per game. The Canadian sharpshooter shot 57.7 percent overall, 60 percent from three-point range (9-of-15), and made 6-of-7 free throws last week.

Freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after a 19-point, six-rebound, four-assist performance against Michigan State. He made 4-of-8 shots from the field, 2-of-2 three-pointers, and 9-of-10 free throws to help Michigan seal its fifth win in the past seven against its instate rival.

Michigan returns to action this Thursday at home against Purdue (13-7, 3-4) at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

The full national rankings are below.

AP Poll Coaches Poll
Rank Team Rank Team
1 Arizona (20-0) 1 Arizona (20-0)
2 Syracuse (19-0) 2 Syracuse (19-0)
3 Florida (17-2) 3 Wichita State (21-0)
4 Wichita State (21-0) 4 Florida (17-2)
5 San Diego State (18-1) 5 San Diego State (18-1)
6 Kansas (15-4) 6 Michigan State (18-2)
7 Michigan State (18-2) 7 Louisville (17-3)
8 Oklahoma State (16-3) 8 Kansas (15-4)
9 Villanova (17-3) 9 Villanova (17-2)
10 Michigan (15-4) 10 Oklahoma State (16-3)
11 Kentucky (15-4) 11 Kentucky (15-4)
12 Louisville (17-3) 12 Iowa (16-4)
13 Cincinnati (19-2) 13 Wisconsin (17-3)
14 Wisconsin (17-3) 14 Michigan (15-4)
15 Iowa (16-4) 15 Cincinnati (19-2)
16 Iowa State (15-3) 16 Duke (16-4)
17 Duke (16-4) 17 Pittsburgh (18-2)
18 Pittsburgh (18-2) 18 Iowa State (15-3)
19 Saint Louis (18-2) 19 Massachusetts (17-2)
20 Creighton (17-3) 20 Creighton (17-3)
21 Massachusetts (17-2) 21 Saint Louis (18-2)
22 Memphis (15-4) 22 Memphis (15-4)
23 Oklahoma (16-4) 23 Ohio State (16-4)
24 Ohio State (16-4) 24 Gonzaga (18-3)
25 Texas (16-4) 25 Oklahoma (16-4)

Inside the Numbers: When records and polls lie

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013


(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

Note: “Inside the Numbers” has returned. With only the bowl game remaining for Michigan football, this column will turn most of its attention to the Michigan men’s basketball team for the remainder of the athletic year. This is the first such installment. Enjoy!

Panic. Michigan is 6-4. This became Michigan’s record when Nik Stauskas’ three-quarters-court heave ricocheted harmlessly off the backboard as the buzzer echoed throughout the Crisler Center last Saturday. It signaled that Michigan had fallen to the top-ranked Arizona Wildcats by two points at home. The loss snapped the Wolverines’ home non-conference winning streak at 20 games.

Panic. Michigan is 6-4. The Wolverines suffered their fourth loss this season on December 14th. Last season, U-M did not lose its fourth game until February 12th, when U-M’s rival from East Lansing beat it by 23 points, handing the Maize and Blue its only double-digit loss of the season. That was 60 days later in the season than when this year’s squad earned its fourth loss.

Panic. Michigan is 6-4. Last season, Michigan was one of three teams that never fell out of the Top 10 in the Associated Press Poll, with the other two being Indiana and Duke. This year, the AP ranked U-M at #7 in the preseason. Now, just seven weeks later, the Wolverines received only three measly votes in the AP Poll.

Panic. Michigan is 6-4. This is the third time in John Beilein’s seven years at Michigan that the Wolverines have been defeated at least four times before New Year’s Day. The first two times it happened were in 2007-08 and 2009-10. Those are the only two U-M teams under Beilein that did not appear in the NCAA Tournament. Further, both of those teams finished with sub-.500 records.

Panic. Michigan is 6-4. Since 2003, only one team that appeared in the national championship game has opened the following season with a worse record. That distinction belongs to the 2011-12 Butler Bulldogs, a team that started its season 4-6 before accepting an invitation to play its post-season basketball in the College Basketball Invitational—two tiers below the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan is KenPom's eighth unluckiest team in the nation (MGoBlue.com)

Panic. Michigan is 6-4. Except Michigan’s record is a lie because U-M currently is playing as a Top 25-caliber and Big Ten-championship-contending squad.

Each year, a debate ensues about the validity of advanced statistics in basketball. Basketball traditionalists do not invest much faith in them, relying on team records, polls, and RPI to evaluate a basketball team. Others rely on advanced statistics, which look past wins and losses and, instead, evaluate a basketball team by how it performs on a per-possession basis. A per-possession evaluation accounts for variables in basketball, such as margin of victory, strength of schedule, and tempo, that a win-loss record cannot embody.

Ken Pomeroy is one of the biggest proponents of advanced statistics in college basketball. Pomeroy owns and operates a website, KenPom.com, which provides and analyzes these statistics. To analyze them, he created an algorithm that evaluates all 351 NCAA D-1 basketball teams on a per-possession basis and then ranks them accordingly. Pomeroy’s algorithm is complex, but there is a simple way to describe how it works. First, the algorithm calculates how much a team would outscore an average NCAA D-1 team in 100 possessions. Second, the algorithm ranks each team based on that margin of victory or defeat in descending order. Therefore, for example, if Team A would outscore an average NCAA D-1 team by 25 points in a 100-possession game, then the algorithm would rank it higher than Team B if Team B would outscore an average NCAA D-1 team by only 10 points in a 100-possession game.

As warned earlier, this is a very basic explanation about how advanced statistics work in basketball. Advanced statistics have much more depth to them. Basketball fans should learn how advanced statistics work if they have not already because these statistics will broaden their knowledge of the game. But the above explanation will provide a sufficient foundation to help Michigan fans understand why they need not panic about the Wolverines’ 6-4 record.

As of yesterday, despite Michigan’s 6-4 record, Pomeroy’s algorithm ranked the Wolverines #23 in the nation. Even though U-M has suffered four losses before New Year’s Day, the algorithm projected that only 22 other schools would outscore an average NCAA D-1 team in a 100-possession game by more than the margin Michigan would. Not only does Pomeroy’s algorithm view Michigan as a Top 25-caliber team, it believes that this year’s squad is better than the one that won Michigan’s first Big Ten regular-season championship since 1986 in 2011-12.

Then why does Michigan have a 6-4 record? Because the Wolverines have experienced more bad luck to open the season than almost every other team in the country.

One must remember that Pomeroy’s algorithm evaluates a team on a per-possession basis, not by its record. Accordingly, if Team A would beat an average NCAA D-1 team by only one point in a 100-possession game, and Team B would lose to an average NCAA D-1 team by only one point in a 100-possession game, the algorithm would view Team A and Team B as being nearly equal because there would be only a two-point difference between Team A and Team B.

Yet, if Team A played an average NCAA D-1 team in a 100-possession game 10 times and won each time by one point, and Team B played an average NCAA D-1 team in a 100-possession game 10 times and lost each time by one point, Team A would be 10-0 and Team B would be 0-10 despite being essentially equal teams. Pomeroy quantifies this effect as “Luck.” To explain “Luck” to his readers, Pomeroy wrote, “Essentially, a team involved in a lot of close games should not win (or lose) all of them. Those that do will be viewed as lucky (or unlucky).”

So why is Michigan 6-4, rather than 9-1 or 8-2? Because Michigan has won most of its games in convincing fashion and lost all of its games in the final few possessions. Accordingly, as of yesterday, Pomeroy’s algorithm ranked the Wolverines 344th out of 351 NCAA D-1 teams in his “Luck” category. His algorithm believes that Michigan is the eighth unluckiest team in the country.

This is why Michigan’s record is so poor through its first 10 games, not because U-M is that much worse than the squad that played for a national championship last season. For example, if the Wolverines prevent Charlotte’s Terrence Williams from tipping in his own air ball with 0.4 seconds left in the game to beat U-M, 63-61, they likely beat the 49ers in OT.

The best example is Michigan’s loss to Arizona on Saturday. First, if Caris LeVert or Mitch McGary corral the rebound from T.J. McConnell’s missed jumper with less than a minute left, U-M maintains its one-point lead and likely wins. Second, after McConnell rebounded his own miss, if the officials do not whistle McGary for a ticky-tacky blocking foul that sent Nick Johnson to the free-throw line and allowed the Wildcats to take the lead, U-M likely wins. Finally, if Stauskas’ jumper falls rather than rattling in and out with 18 seconds left, U-M regains the lead and is one stop away from a win.

Despite the disappointing start, Michigan is still considered a top team (MGoBlue.com)

Flip those two games, and Michigan is 8-2 with a home win against #1 Arizona and two road losses to Iowa State and Duke—both of which are ranked and have a combined 16-2 record. Not only would Michigan fans not be panicking, they would be contemplating a Big Ten regular-season championship, especially because U-M likely still would be ranked in the Top 15 of the AP Poll.

It is amazing how one or two plays can affect the perception of a team. And this is why records and polls lie. Flip the Charlotte and Arizona games, give Michigan an 8-2 record and a Top 15 ranking, and this still would be the same Michigan basketball team. The Wolverines would be only slightly better than they are now, if at all, if they had won those two games. Pomeroy’s algorithm recognizes this, even if Michigan’s record and the polls do not.

However, the Maize and Blue still need to have a sense of urgency because, unfortunately, the NCAA Tournament selection committee does not use Pomeroy’s algorithm or rankings as part of its criteria. Instead, it looks at the two criteria that most hurt Michigan’s resume right now: win-loss record and RPI. Therefore, Michigan cannot wait any longer to prove to basketball traditionalists that it is a Top 25-caliber team.

The Wolverines’ current level of play suggests that the wins should start to come if it maintains that level, but U-M cannot afford to lose many more close games. U-M needs those wins, especially against high-caliber opponents. If the Wolverines start to earn those wins, the NCAA Tournament selection committee will believe that the Wolverines are deserving of a high seed. Otherwise, U-M will receive a low at-large seed, hindering its odds to make another run in the NCAA Tournament, or risk not making the tournament at all.

Thus, it cannot be emphasized enough how important it is that Michigan beat Stanford at the Barclays Center this Saturday. First, Michigan will be a slight favorite over the Cardinal. A win against the school from Palo Alto would be U-M’s second quality win of the season thus far, with Florida State being the first. Second, the NCAA Tournament selection committee generally will offer an at-large bid to a Big Ten school that finishes the regular season with 20 wins and a .500 conference record. If Michigan loses to Stanford, it likely will have a 7-5 non-conference record, needing a 13-5 record in the nation’s best conference to hit the 20-win mark. This is not a situation in which the Wolverines want to find themselves.

Nevertheless, this year’s Michigan hoops team has still been very, very good. If it sustains this level of play, in time, it will reappear in the AP Top 25 and be a strong contender for a Big Ten championship. Although Michigan is by no means flawless and still has weaknesses it needs to remedy, the team will be just as good as many of you expected it to be prior to the season.

Panic. Michigan fans need not do it. At least not yet.

Three Notes You Should Know Before Michigan-Stanford

  1. • Michigan has had a 20-point scorer in nine straight games—the longest such streak at Michigan during John Beilein’s tenure. Nik Stauskas has been the most vital player to this streak, scoring at least 20 points in six times during this span. The other players who have helped maintain it are Caris LeVert, who has topped 20 points three times, Zak Irvin, and Glenn Robinson III.
  1. • The Wolverines are shooting 39.2 percent on three-pointers this season. This is a higher percentage than any prior Michigan team under Beilein could muster. Look for U-M to take advantage of this against Stanford, which is ranked #241 in three-point defense and allows opponents to make 36.1 percent of their three-pointers.
  1. • New York City treated Michigan very well last season. The Wolverines played three games there—two at Madison Square Garden and one at the Barclays Center—and beat three major-conference opponents—Pittsburgh, Kansas State, and West Virginia—by an average margin of 11.1 points. The Maize and Blue will travel back this Saturday to play the Stanford Cardinal at the Barclays Center.

You can follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewCHallett

Slipped away: Arizona 72 – Michigan 70

Saturday, December 14th, 2013


(MGoBlue.com)

For the longest time this afternoon, it seemed that Michigan would finally shake some early-season doldrums to get a much-needed win. Glenn Robinson III came out to play, scoring 16 first-half points in what was easily his best extended stretch of play in his young career. Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert picked up the pace in the second half, combining for 19 of their 29 total points after the break. Even Spike Albrecht got it going with 10 total points.

In basketball, however, a big win usually takes a strong performance from the opening tip to the final buzzer, and the Wolverines simply couldn’t hold the number one team in the country at bay down the stretch, falling 72-70 to the Arizona Wildcats.

Arizona’s big advantage over Michigan, and against just about every other team in the country this season, is their size and athleticism inside. Earlier this year, Florida State caused all sorts of trouble for Michigan with their big men before Stauskas took over and led the Maize and Blue to victory, but the Seminoles’ big men are certainly not as talented overall as these Wildcats.

Throughout the first half, Michigan was able to simply out-shoot Arizona and played very solid defense. Still, the Wildcats rebounded nearly 43 percent of their own misses but could not convert those second and third chances into buckets. Michigan, on the other hand, rebounded only 33 percent of their misses but managed to score seven points off those opportunities to Arizona’s two.

Glenn Robinson III had his best game of the season in the losing effort (MGoBlue.com)

Then came the second half, and the tides turned. The Wildcats continued to use their front line of Brandon Ashley, Aaron Gordon, and Kaleb Tarczewski to crash the boards, finishing with an overall offensive rebounding rate just under 50 percent, and scored six second-chance points in the latter half to help bolster their efforts while Michigan rebounded fewer than a quarter of their missed shots in the second half and only got two points on those boards.

Jon Horford was well aware of Arizona’s prowess on the glass, saying afterward, “I almost imagined their coach telling them, ‘just go throw it up at the rim, we’re going to get the offensive rebound anyway.’”

Unfortunately, that seemed to be the case all day long.

Sean Miller’s team simply put on a post-play clinic in the second half, resulting in a shot chart that is simply a blob of circles around the numbers 11, 21, and 35 within three feet of the basket. Michigan played valiantly on defense at times in the first half, but when the Wildcats really focused on getting the ball inside late in the game, the Wolverines had no answers, as Gordon, Ashley, and Tarczewski combined to score 20 points in the paint after the break.

Offensively, John Beilein’s squad was very good but struggled late, only mustering three buckets in the last eight minutes of play. Glenn Robinson III, who looked like the lottery pick many have projected him to be in the first half, was perfect before halftime with 16 points on seven shots, but went silent in the last 20 minutes, scoring only four more points on just two shots. His aggressiveness early gave Michigan a small lead and a step-back three to end the first half sent the Wolverines into the locker room up by nine, but Robinson was stifled by Gordon for the better part of the second half.

Now with four tough losses in the books before conference season has begun, Michigan needs to pull together and start closing out some of these close games. It’s becoming more and more apparent every game that Trey Burke’s late game presence has been missed immensely, and today, Derrick Walton, Jr. sat on the bench for 26 minutes and watched Spike Albrecht get the playing time in the crunch.

Despite those blemishes, though, Michigan still seems to be hopeful and will look to improve off today’s loss.

Jon Horford, who played 17 productive minutes with four blocks and four rebounds, was particularly upbeat.

“It’s just something that’s going to help us grow. Mentally, I feel like we’re becoming more and more connected. As a team, I feel like everybody is more on the same page. Everybody has a more positive attitude…I feel like by the time Big Ten (season) gets here, we’re gonna be rolling.”

Nik Stauskas was also about as positive as can be after such a tough defeat.

“I don’t think anyone on this team is worried. If you look at our losses right now, Duke we were there down the stretch, today we were right there, Iowa State we were right there, Charlotte we were right there. It’s just a matter of closing out games right now, something we haven’t done, but as far as being worried about it, I don’t think anyone is.”

With another big game next week Saturday in Brooklyn against Stanford, Michigan needs to keep a positive attitude and close out victories. It’s not time yet to fret about potential postseason destinations, and with each of the 20 remaining regular season games, the Wolverines have plenty of opportunities to strengthen their resume.

The time is now, however, to take advantage of those opportunities.

Three Stars:

***Brandon Ashley*** – 18 points (8-of-16 FG, 0-of-1 3pt., 2-of-2 FT), six rebounds, one assist, one block, zero turnovers in 34 minutes
**Glenn Robinson III** – 20 points (8-of-9 FG, 2-of-2 3pt., 2-of-3 FT), four rebounds, two turnovers in 37 minutes
*Nick Johnson* – 14 points (3-of-9 FG, 2-of-4 3pt., 6-of-6 FT), five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one turnover in 36 minutes

Quick Hitters:

• Both teams were excellent from the free throw line all game long, as Michigan made 14 of their 17 attempts and Arizona made 14 of 15. Gabe York missed the Wildcats’ only freebie with one second left, and though it looked intentional, Sean Miller said after the game that he did not instruct York to miss. Nick Johnson was phenomenal from the stripe down the stretch, making all six of his attempts with fewer than 30 seconds to go while Mitch McGary made all four of his big free throws as well late in the second half. Michigan was also in the bonus much earlier than Arizona after halftime but didn’t take advantage with aggressive play.

• Neither team was particularly sloppy with the ball, but Michigan had a few late turnovers that really hurt their chances. Ultimately, the Wolverines coughed it up 11 times to just nine from Arizona (only three of which were in the second half), and four different Michigan players had two turnovers.

• John Beilein was very conservative with the use of his freshmen today, showing a very short leash on Derrick Walton, Jr. and only giving Zak Irvin five minutes. After the game, Beilein pointed to strong play from Spike Albrecht as the reason Walton’s minutes were limited, but during the game he didn’t seem happy with the way Walton was running the offense. In their 19 combined minutes, Walton and Irvin only combined to take two shots, both three-point misses, and neither seemed very comfortable in the big game environment. Irvin got a few minutes late on defensive substitutions but wasn’t able to stay with Nick Johnson on the inbounds plays and had to resort to fouling.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
01 Glenn Robinson III* 8-9 2-2 2-3 0 4 4 1 20 0 2 0 0 37
10 Derrick Walton Jr.* 0-3 0-1 1-2 0 0 0 2 1 1 1 0 0 14
11 Nik Stauskas* 4-11 1-4 5-5 1 5 6 2 14 2 1 1 0 38
04 Mitch McGary* 2-3 0-0 4-4 3 1 4 3 8 0 2 0 0 22
23 Caris LeVert* 6-15 2-5 1-1 0 0 0 2 15 2 2 1 1 38
02 Spike Albrecht 3-4 3-4 1-2 0 3 3 1 10 4 2 0 1 24
10 Jon Horford 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 3 2 0 1 4 1 17
21 Zak Irvin 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 5
52 Jordan Morgan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Totals 24-48 8-17 14-17 6 18 24 17 70 9 11 6 3 200
Arizona 27-61 4-10 14-15 17 20 37 18 72 14 9 2 5 200
Full Stats

Sam’s 3 thoughts: Arizona

Friday, December 13th, 2013


Despite a somewhat disappointing start to the 2013-14 Michigan basketball campaign, the Wolverines still have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of and statements to make; after all, the conference season hasn’t even begun yet. Tomorrow, however, marks another chance for Michigan to make some noise in the college basketball world before the Big Ten comes calling and once again turn doubters into believers as the top-ranked team in the country, Arizona, comes to town. Here are my three quick thoughts on the matchup up with Sean Miller’s Wildcats.

Fight Inside: There is really nothing out of the ordinary about how the Arizona Wildcats operate. Sean Miller, one of the best combinations of recruiter and Xs and Os coaches in the country in my opinion, fields a talented and big roster that simply plays hard on both sides of the court. On offense, Arizona doesn’t settle for too many bad jumpers and will usually look to get the ball in the paint at least once per possession to one of 7’0″ sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski, 6’8″ sophomore Brandon Ashley, or 6’9″ freshman Aaron Gordon. If these three are consistently converting layups and dunks inside on Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Jon Horford, and company, Michigan might as well give up before the tip, but if the Wolverines can battle inside and deny the easy bounce pass, they should be able to make life difficult enough to stay in it.

Michigan's big men will have their hands full with Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Aaron Gordon down low (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Arizona is not a particularly good free throw shooting team (just 66 percent from the line) and is generally not a team that will kill you from outside the arc either (37.7 percent from three), so Michigan can afford to be aggressive and look for some takeaways. The matchup to watch inside will be Mitch McGary bodying up against Tarczewski, Nik Stauskas’s former teammate. Tarczewski has a couple inches on McGary, as will Ashley and Gordon on their Wolverine counterparts, but if the Maize and Blue play strong interior defense and perhaps throw a few different zone looks in from time to time, things should be looking up for the home team.

Stay Even Outside: While freshman Aaron Gordon gets the lion’s share of the hype on this Arizona team, I really think the strongest part of Sean Miller’s team is his backcourt. Junior two-guard Nick Johnson is Arizona’s biggest threat to take over any game and can cause mismatches with his solid frame and fundamental play while fellow junior guard T.J. McConnell often draws comparisons to Aaron Craft with his nearly two steals per game average. This potentially spells trouble for Michigan’s backcourt, which is still struggling to shut down dynamic guards and is frankly very young.

Derrick Walton, Jr. has certainly lived up to some lofty expectations so far, but he is not Trey Burke. Walton has undoubtedly been solid overall and is able to knock down shots while finishing at the rim when he gets into the paint, but the freshman has had some turnover issues. Likewise, Nik Stauskas, who will start opposite Walton in the backcourt, has been phenomenal on offense, but a matchup with Nick Johnson will not be easy for the sophomore for the Canadian sophomore. If John Beilein’s backcourt can hold steady with Arizona’s, I like Michigan’s chances. Perhaps Caris LeVert would be best in guarding Johnson, but then Stauskas would be left to man up with a much bigger opponent. Regardless of what happens, Michigan’s guards need to be up to a big task.

Ride the Crowd: Arizona has obviously been playing better basketball than Michigan so far this year, with wins over Duke, San Diego State, and UNLV, among others, to go along with no losses, but home court rules college basketball. With the holidays just around the corner, many of Michigan’s students may be going home before this Saturday’s game, but the Crisler Center should still be rocking with a wild sellout crowd.

Inexplicably, Michigan’s Athletic Department sold the band’s seats to this game, so a DJ will take place of the instruments; still, what should be the most raucous crowd of the season will pay unmeasurable dividends to the home Wolverines. The key for Michigan will be to come out of the gates strong and then to ride the momentum and the crowd noise to keep Arizona at bay. If all of Michigan’s players show up, and they certainly should rise to the occasion, the Wolverines can slay the giant.

Prediction: With a whole week to prepare for tomorrow’s game, John Beilein certainly has drawn up a game plan that should give Michigan a nice leg up, considering Arizona had to play Wednesday night. Still, Arizona will fire away continuously and will have the size advantage all day. Ultimately, though, I think Beilein’s expertise and home court advantage will carry the Wolverines to a thrilling 74-71 victory.

Hoops opponent preview: Arizona

Friday, December 13th, 2013


#NR/25 Michigan (6-3) vs #1/1 Arizona (10-0) – Ann Arbor, Mich. – 12pm EST – CBS
Offense
80.3 Points/gm 77.4
(251-541) 46.4 Field Goal % 50.2 (278-554)
(85-220) 38.6 3-pt FG % 37.7 (57-151)
(136-184) 73.9 Free Throw % 66.0 (161-244)
15.1 FT Made/gm 16.1
37.9 Reb/gm 41.5
16.4 Assists/gm 15.9
9.3 Turnovers/gm 12.4
Defense
62.1 Points/gm 58.0
(211-506) 41.7 Field Goal % 36.4 (203-557)
(50-155) 32.3 3-pt FG % 27.2 (44-162)
32.0 Opp. Reb/gm 27.2
6.4 Steals/gm 5.0
2.7 Blocks/gm 5.7
Individual Leaders
Nik Stauskas (18.9), Caris LeVert (13.9) Points/gm Nick Johnson (15.7), Brandon Ashley (12.3)
Mitch McGary (8.9), Jon Horford (5.2) Reb/gm Aaron Gordon (8.5), Brandon Ashley (6.6)

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan rebounded from its loss at Duke with its best offensive performance of the season last Saturday. The Wolverines broke 100 for the first time since the first game of 2012 and doubled up Houston Baptist 107-53. Granted, the level of competition was a major step down from the Blue Devils, but it gave Michigan some confidence heading into tomorrow’s showdown with the undefeated and top-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Plus, Michigan got a week to rest and prepare for the big matchup. Can the Wolverines pull off the upset? Let’s take a look at Arizona:

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Nick Johnson (G) 29.6 15.7 50.0 35.6 82.2 3.8 2.4 2.4 0.9 0.7
Brandon Ashley (F) 27.0 12.3 61.0 58.3 73.3 6.6 0.7 2.0 0.7 0.6
Aaron Gordon (F) 30.1 11.9 46.9 37.5 44.7 8.5 1.4 1.6 1.3 0.4
Kaleb Tarczewski (C) 26.0 9.7 60.0 00.0 73.5 6.5 0.7 2.1 1.4 0.1
TJ McConnell (G) 30.2 7.4 48.3 35.0 57.9 3.9 6.7 2.0 0.3 1.8
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (F) 22.9 9.1 54.4 33.3 63.6 5.0 1.8 0.6 0.8 0.7
Gabe York (G) 18.8 7.6 40.0 39.5 76.5 2.3 1.0 0.6 0.2 0.3
Jordin Mayes (G) 5.6 0.6 23.1 00.0 00.0 0.3 0.5 0.7 0.0 0.3
The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 8 Cal Poly W 73-62
Nov. 11 Long Beach State W 91-57
Nov. 14 at San Diego State W 69-60
Nov. 18 Fairleigh Dickinson* W 100-50
Nov. 19 Rhode Island* W 87-59
Nov. 27 Drexel* W 66-62
Nov. 29 #6 Duke* W 72-66
Dec. 3 Texas Tech W 73-71
Dec. 7 UNLV W 63-58
Dec. 11 New Mexico State W 74-48
*NIT Season Tip-Off

While Michigan got a week off to rest some injuries, work out some kinks, and come up with a game plan for tomorrow, Arizona had to play Wednesday night. The Wildcats easily dispensed of New Mexico State, but certainly won’t be as fresh as Michigan. The Wildcats have played two common opponents so far this season, beating Long Beach State 91-57 (Michigan beat LBSU 85-61) and Duke 72-66. The latter came in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Arizona is still unbeaten, but the Wildcats aren’t without close games. Drexel jumped out to a 27-8 lead in the first 13 minutes of the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal, but Arizona fought back and won 66-62. Last Saturday, UNLV held a three-point halftime lead over Arizona but the Wildcats held the Rebels to just 16 second half points and won 63-58.

Arizona also has faced a tough road environment, coming away with a win at San Diego State on Nov. 14, so when they invade the Crisler Center tomorrow they will be battle tested.

The Series

This will mark the first time Arizona has visited Ann Arbor. The teams have met eight previous times with Arizona holding a 6-2 edge. Seven of those eight were in early season tournaments or neutral sites. The only other meeting on campus was a Michigan win at Arizona on Dec. 30, 1987.

Notes

• Michigan has won 20 straight home non-conference games. The last loss was a 67-60 loss to Kansas on Jan. 9, 2011.
• Michigan has had a 20-point scorer in each of its last eight games.
• Mitch McGary is averaging a double-double over his last five games (10.6 points and 10.4 rebounds).

Can Michigan overtake Duke for top spot?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012


Michigan’s continued dominance coupled with Indiana’s overtime loss to Butler on Saturday afternoon allowed the Wolverines to move up yet another spot in the national rankings. Michigan began the season fifth, but has steadily climbed to second while those above them have faltered. All except Duke, which remains the only team ranked ahead of them.

The last time Michigan reached second in the rankings was the second year of the Fab Five, the 1992-93 season that remains marred by scandal and erased from the record books. Most current college students have never seen Michigan ranked as high as it is now.

So how far can the Wolverines keep going? Can they supplant the Blue Devils for the top spot? How long will Michigan remain unbeaten? Let’s take a look at Michigan’s upcoming schedule as well as those of Duke and the other remaining unbeatens.

Next 10 games
#1 Duke (9-0) #2 Michigan (11-0) #3 Syracuse (9-0) #4 Arizona (8-0)
Dec. 19 vs Cornell Dec. 20 vs EMU Dec. 22 vs Temple Dec. 18 vs Oral Roberts
Dec. 20 vs Elon Dec. 29 vs CMU Dec. 29 vs Alcorn State Dec. 22 vs ETSU
Dec. 29 vs Santa Clara Jan. 3 @ NW Dec. 31 vs C. Con. State Jan. 3 vs Colorado
Jan. 2 vs Davidson Jan. 6 vs Iowa Jan. 2 vs Rutgers Jan. 5 vs Utah
Jan. 5 vs Wake Forest Jan. 9 vs Nebraska Jan. 6 @ USF Jan. 10 @ Oregon
Jan. 8 vs Clemson Jan. 13 @ #7 Ohio State Jan. 9 @ Providence Jan. 12 @ Oregon State
Jan. 12 @ #25 NC State Jan. 17 @ #13 Minnesota Jan. 12 vs Villanova Jan. 19 vs Arizona State
Jan. 17 vs Georgia Tech Jan. 24 vs Purdue Jan. 19 @ #5 Louisville Jan. 24 vs UCLA
Jan. 23 @ Miami Jan. 27 @ #10 Illinois Jan. 21 vs #11 Cincinnati Jan. 26 vs USC
Jan. 26 vs Maryland Jan. 30 vs NW Jan. 26 @ Villanova Jan. 31 @ Washington

Right off the bat, the main thing that’s apparent is that Michigan faces the toughest schedule in the next month. Eastern and Central Michigan will close out the non-conference slate and the calendar year, while Northwestern, Iowa, and Nebraska should also be victories, leaving Michigan 16-0 heading into the Jan. 13 matchup at Ohio State. That would match the longest streak since the 1985-86 team started 16-0. If the Wolverines come out of Columbus unbeaten, they then head to Minneapolis four days later for another tough matchup. Survive that and Michigan hosts Purdue and then visits currently unbeaten and 10th-ranked Illinois.

Trey Burke's 18ppg and 7-2 assist-to-turnover average have Michigan flying high (Tony Ding, AP)

Duke still hasn’t played a true road game this season, having played Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisville, and Temple on neutral sites. The Blue Devils won’t play their first road game until Jan. 12 at N.C. State and may not face a realistic threat until Feb. 13 against North Carolina. In fact, Duke, N.C. State, and North Carolina are the only ranked teams in the ACC, so the Blue Devils certainly have an easier remaining road to retaining the No.1 spot than Michigan does.

Syracuse is right on Michigan’s heels in the rankings, but hasn’t beaten a ranked team yet this season. Last night, the Orange nearly lost to Detroit. An 8-1 Temple squad could present an interesting matchup on Saturday, but after that Syracuse should cruise into a Jan. 19 matchup at fifth-ranked Louisville undefeated. If they can survive that one, they host currently unbeaten Cincinnati two days later.

Arizona got by No.5 Florida on Saturday and now doesn’t have a currently ranked team left on its schedule. The 9-1 Oregon Ducks could be the team to trip up the Wildcats on Jan. 10 in Eugene. If not, it’s hard to see Arizona losing before Michigan, given the comparative schedules.

Of course, going undefeated is nearly impossible in today’s college basketball, and losing some games and facing adversity may even be preferable before the NCAA Tournament beings. No one expects Michigan to go unbeaten, but it would be fun to see the Wolverines grab the top spot. But even if it doesn’t happen, Michigan has proven over the first few weeks of the season that they’re a force to be reckoned with and can match up with anyone.

Michigan should make it at least three more weeks at No.2, but likely won’t pass Duke unless the Blue Devils stumble big time. Once Jan. 13 hits, Michigan will face big-time opponents pretty much every other game the rest of the season. It will be tough to earn a No.1 seed in the Big Dance, but even with a few Big Ten losses, Michigan should be good enough to earn a 2-seed. But there’s still a lot of basketball left to play.