Michigan responded from their first loss of the season by defeating Minnesota 59-57 Tuesday night in Ann Arbor thanks to a Charles Matthews shot from the baseline at the buzzer.
Despite coming away with the victory, Michigan was just 34% from the field tallying their worst shooting percentage and victory combination since 2012. Three point land was even worse for the Wolverines as they shot 13.6% from beyond the arc on 22 shot attempts. Ugly night all around for the maize and blue, a game they stole back that was almost stolen from them, a game they’ve should have lost.
Last week I wrote about this team being the best team in the nation and I still believe when their shots are falling and the defense is what has been, they can win any game against any team on any given night. John Beilein teams usually have a spurt of offensive struggles as he mentioned in his post game press conference Tuesday.
“The Duncans, Wilsons, even Stauskas went through slumps and eventually got through them” Beilien said in response to if he is worried about the slump Charles Matthews and Iggy Brazdeikis had been on.
Had is the key word in that last sentence. Although Iggy was 4-18 from the field, he seemed to have his swagger back that he lost the last few weeks and especially in the loss in Madison. Brazdeikis was the leading scorer of the game against the Golden Gophers going 9-11 from the free throw line despite the poor shooting from the field and finished with 18 points.
“I knew I had to get aggressive, I didn’t make shots at Wisconsin I felt like I was a little passive not passive, just wasn’t my self aggressively” said Brazdeikis.
Matthews was only 3-8 as well for 7 points after also having a poor night at Wisconsin. Matthews hit a mid-range jumper early in the first half which was his bread and butter last season but hasn’t fallen quite as often this season. A mid range jumper for the win will also do numbers for your confidence and that is what is the difference from the past few years and this one, Michigan got the win when everything including themselves was working against them.
Going undefeated into the post season was a nice thought but also a kind of scary one when you take in the fact that no team as ever went undefeated the entire season and won the national championship. Working out your hiccups now, in my opinion, is the best thing possible for these Wolverines if they want to win John Beilien his first national title.
Last season after getting a huge win on the road vs Michigan State in mid January, Michigan
started to stumble barley beating an average Maryland team at home and then losing games to Nebraska, Purdue and Northwestern. After the Wildcat lost, Michigan took off as you know and started that streak of only losing the National Championship game to Villanova until last weekends loss to Wisconsin.
The 2016 season the Wolverines struggled off and on all year until getting on a roll in the Big Ten tournament and almost beating Oregon in the sweet 16 when everyone projected they would miss the tournament. Beilien is great at coaching guys up through out the season and this year there’s nearly not as much room for improvement than before.
Michigan has the scoring depth to snap out of this offensive struggle and even though they played their worst game of the year and almost dropped a game at home, again they still won against a 14 win Minnesota team. Plus there are positives from the near loss vs Minnesota other then the combined effort from Matthews and Brazdeikis.
Jon Teske was 7 of 8 from the field scoring 15 with 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. The lone missed shot from Teske came in the last minutes of the game and he appeared not get a call on a hack on his arm. Zavier Simpson also had 3 steals and had his sky hook working scoring six points
in the victory.
Michigan is now 18-1 and will face Indiana Friday at 6:30, Michigan won the first contest against the Hoosiers a couple weeks ago 74-63.