B1G Basketball Preview: Michigan

Written October 20th, 2011 by Joe Dexter

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.

Watch Out B1G, Here Comes Tim Hardaway Jr.

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.

Last Season:

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.

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Picks for the Weak: Week 2

Written September 9th, 2011 by Joe Dexter

 

You're WEAK if you picked Notre Dame in Week 1 - Brian Kelly

There ain’t no thunderstorm bright enough, ain’t no rain storm long enough, ain’t no computer smart enough –to keep me from helping you weaklings! Week 1 is in the books, and though I finished sub .500 in the first week of our picks, I am spry and ready to prove that Week two is my week!

Okay, so finishing 4-5 wasn’t so bad in our first round of games. Considering TCU was a lock ( son of a). Notre Dame never loses in week one right?? (Fight this Irish) I thought Ducks fly together? I guess not when you spread em’ out in Dallas.

Breakdown of Week 1:

So just how ugly was it in the very first analysis for our panel? If your name starts with an E and ends with @tBBC then you’re smilin’ this week.  If you’re the dope that writes this article, then you are just happy you tied the computer! Apparently anyone named Joe is a week 1 WEAKLING. Here is a look at this week’s results.

Experts (David Fox/Yahoo!): 7-2

Eric: 6-3

Mali: 5-4

Jim: 5-4

Joe D: 4-5

Computer: 4-5

Joe L 3-6

Props going to David Fox, for boldly picking Baylor over the favored Horned Frogs. He said it in the interview, this defense has a lot of work to do. Fox’s only lost came from Notre Dame and Oregon.

Eric went toe-for-toe, but chose TCU instead of Baylor. Let’s just say he has been wishing bad things upon the Bears all week. Don’t worry Eric, the whole panel was. The Bulls and Bears swept the panel in week 1.  Eric says this is a true sign from the football gods that TCU belongs in the Big East.

And well, with the Irish, we are used to this by now aren’t we?

The panel got back on track with sweep wins by selecting Oklahoma over Tulsa and Mizzou over Miami (OH).

Week Two Analysis:

Speaking of those Wacos, this week’s guest writer Lisa Horne of Fox Sports.com and I discuss Big Ten and SEC expansion and the Big 12′s role in it to open things up. Lisa then helps us break down Michigan/ND (EWW), Arizona State/Missouri, Auburn/Mississippi State and Wisconsin/Oregon State with us. A very solid interview with Lisa, as she brings us her great football knowledge. And yes, she chose Michigan, but what else was she supposed to do? Take Notre Dame?

Picks of the Weak: Week 2 With Lisa Horne by The Buckeye Battle Cry

Now it’s time to get to the Games!

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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