A momentary loss of muscular coordination. A few extra footpounds of energy per second, per second [photo: Patrick Barron]

Michigan 54, Wisconsin 64 Comment Count

Seth January 19th, 2019 at 3:58 PM

For an incredible 11 weeks, Michigan managed to avoid a snowstorm. Oh, there was the occasional flurry, but nothing that managed to stick around. This may not seem all the weird to young people who’ve grown up since global warming changed our weather expectations, but to those of us who grew up between the lakes before 2012 the welcome streak of fair weather, underpinned by strong science as it was, seemed as unsustainable as going an entire basketball season in the Big Ten without a loss.

On Saturday winter finally made its presence felt across the upper Midwest. The slippery conditions extended to Wisconin’s Trohl Center, where a team of small children (really, they were using sub-10-year-olds) struggled to keep Michigan’s end of the floor from resembling the state of the roads outside. The combination of Michigan’s lack of traction and some Wisconsin players constantly getting flung backwards by invisible trucks led to a frustrating afternoon for the Wolverine slashers, especially freshman Ignatius Brazdeikis. Iggy, who drew 6’11” Nate Reuvers, got called for two early fouls, played just 23 minutes, and for the first time in his college career finished a game without a point.

Wisconsin’s defense did an excellent job of running Michigan’s offense off the three-point line, and survived their few open looks, with Iggy missing his three, Poole going 1-of-5 (one a moonball that had zero chance of going in), Simpson 1-for-3, and Matthews unable to get one off. An ugly foot-and-rimmer by Teske early in the second half was just the team’s second made three all game.

Michigan spent much of the first half without both of its starting bigs, as Teske picked up a soft reach-on on Happ before Iggy picked up two. That necessitated some long minutes with Austin Davis against Happ. Rather than fouling the sub-50-percent free throw shooter, Davis mostly tried to hold up. The Badgers definitely knew where they wanted to attack with Davis on the floor, and Michigan had to survive some very open perimeters whenever help came. Davis wasn’t bad, but the stretch really made you appreciate how warm and cozy it feels to have Jon Teske on the floor.

Zavier Simpson made sure the game stayed close, bulling his way to the rim to set up easy points for whatever bigs were allowed out, and playing his characteristically dogged defense, especially on the perimeter. ESPN’s broadcast decisions made Wisconsin’s possessions as unwatchable as Brad Davison’s flops, especially in the first half. For a third of the frame much of the Badgers’ offensive zone had an annoying graphic literally covering a third of the frame, and the announcers spent a good four minutes of game time discussing the draft prospects of Michigan, Wisconsin, and, uh Murray State players. Michigan led 27-25 at the break.

When on the floor, Teske made life miserable for Happ, whose 26 points on 22 shots (all at or near the rim) included more than a few friendly Trohl Center rolls. Happ’s incredible post moves are devastating to defenders who leave their feet, but Teske’s size and quick feet allowed him to roll with every shot fake and stay in position.


Teske’s defense, when available, turned the #2 player to Kenpom into an average man [Barron]

Wisconsin returned the favor and then some on Michigan’s top usage guy, frustrating Charles Matthews into three turnovers and just five points. Much of that usage went to Poole, who finished with an inefficient 14 points on 23 shot equivalents. Livers had a dunk and a beautiful three-pointer late, but also three turnovers. Michigan would finish with 16 of those in a low-possession game.

With Teske’s autobench time served (he’d finish with two) and Happ resting early in the second half, Michigan had its chance to finally generate more than a one-possession lead, but got caught playing too fast. Poole in particular committed a few uncharacteristic turnovers. When Happ returned to the floor with the score tied at the 8:00 mark, it didn’t take my sensitive knees to know a storm was coming. Quickly down four, Poole took a terrible three-point attempt lob, then got flagged for his fourth foul when trying to help on Happ. An Eli Brooks long two was followed by a quick Happ slam and a Michigan timeout.

Again it was Simpson who refused stop fighting the conditions. With 3:00 remaining down six, Simpson forced a turnover, missed a contested transition layup, got the rebound, got fouled, missed two, then set up Livers (missed, rebound out of bounds off Wisconsin) and Teske (made) for open three-point attempts.

Happ got a friendly roll over Teske on a low-percentage (even for him) hook shot from six feet out to push Wisconsin’s lead to five, then made the front end of a 1-and-1 to put it back to six. Livers hit a step-back three to make it a 3-point game with a minute remaining, but the officials whistled Brazeikis for a questionable intentional foul that sent Beilein storming and Happ to the line for two. A few desperation plays later Virginia was the lone unbeaten and Wisconsin got to celebrate its first marquee win of the season.

With the worst part of winter still ahead, this won’t be the last time Michigan has to get out the snow shovels. On Tuesday they’ll host a slushy Minnesota squad that just lost to Illinois(!) before a trip Indiana’s Assembly Hall, another frosty venue that really makes you appreciate the comforts of home.

[Box score after THE JUMP]



Couzen Rick's

January 19th, 2019 at 4:02 PM ^

Tbh I'm already over it. This isn't a terrible loss resume wise and proves to the team they need to get back to work. Love Iggy but this is a good wake up call after his "we want Duke" soundbite. He'll continue to improve and I'm excited for March. Go Blue!


January 19th, 2019 at 8:43 PM ^

What a week for teams ranked in the top ten. Duke lost to Syracuse, Virginia lost to Duke, Michigan lost to Wisconsin, Virginia Tech lost to Virginia, Texas Tech lost to Iowa State and Baylor and Kansas lost to West Virginia.  Here's when the scrambling in the NCAA basketball rankings will give bracketologists of the world headaches to last until Selection Sunday.


January 19th, 2019 at 4:05 PM ^

Well that's it...season over.  There is nothing in the recent past to indicate that Michigan can overcome even a little adversity and go on to have a great season.


January 19th, 2019 at 4:55 PM ^

haha, agree! This team is fine, they were going to lose at some point and it isn't surprising that it was at the Trohl Center when Wisky needed a win. You can always look back and make changes after the game is over. Seemed like they should have fouled Happ more, no one else on wisky had over 9 points and Charles needs to get going, he's a senior and should play more consistent. They'll bounce back, you learn more from loses than wins. Beilein is the best in these moments.

Naked Bootlegger

January 19th, 2019 at 4:13 PM ^

Lots of empty possessions today.   And in a game against a slow-paced turnover averse team that makes EVERY offensive possession precious, that spelled doom.   

The uncharacteristic fast break turnovers were especially confounding.   There were a handful of fast breaks generated off turnovers that could've been real momentum changers, but sloppy passing killed those potentially easy points.

I attended the game, so I did not see the "intentional" foul as it happened.   But I just watched the replay.   Did Iggy do anything else but hand-check Happ away from the ball?   Did I miss a gross clutch and grab?    I realize that I'm tremendously biased, but I don't see that worthy of an intentional foul.   


A Lot of Milk

January 19th, 2019 at 4:26 PM ^

Haven't watched the replay outside of the broadcast, but it looked like Iggy smacked his arm and also was looking at the ref like "hey, call this foul please" like a player does when he's trying to intentionally foul. Obviously not a great look if Iggy didn't know the rule, but I'd rather it happen in this game then say, oh, a national championship game against UNC :(


January 19th, 2019 at 4:31 PM ^

Good post, agree about the empty possessions and turnovers and sloppy play.  That'll fix itself I'd like to think.  Also not everyday is your day and we finally had a game where too many of our guys had an poor outing (and/or untimely plays).

Fouling a guy away far from the ball though, via holding or hacking his arm...intentionally...is an intentional foul!

Naked Bootlegger

January 19th, 2019 at 4:57 PM ^

Regarding the intentional foul, I agree completely with what you're saying.  It WAS an intentional foul, but so are most fouls by the team with less points in the last minute of the game.   

We rarely see a foul away from the ball in this situation, so the ref was interpreting it as an obvious intentional situation, especially if Iggy hacked Happ or held his arm.    I do not have any complaints under these circumstances.   But I have major issues with the call if he only hand checked him.



January 19th, 2019 at 5:33 PM ^

Years back they started to crack down on holding a guy (the guy a team behind, wanted to shoot) on the inbound after a basket and started calling it intentional. I think what we day today was the same thing...an extra-intentional foul, on a guy without the ball.  There can be fouls away from the ball, sure, but the end of game intentional stuff got changed.

I get it, intentional fouling is an odd thing but unlike 'Nam there are rules to the procedure as odd as it is!


January 19th, 2019 at 7:11 PM ^

I get it, intentional fouling is an odd thing but unlike 'Nam there are rules to the procedure as odd as it is!

Self: I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this fucking ref could call intentional fouls...

Slackbot Self: I don't see any connection to Vietnam, Self.

Self: Well, there isn't a literal connection, Slackbot.

Slackbot Self: Self, face it, there isn't any connection.


January 20th, 2019 at 12:49 AM ^

It was a homer call.  They knew Michigan was trying to foul Happ and when it was away from the ball they called it intentional.  You never see these calls at the end of a game.  Beilein was right to be pissed.  That’s okay.  They can have their friendly called home win and shove it up their asses.  Happ is over-rated and Teske out played him.


January 19th, 2019 at 10:18 PM ^

"They take the air out of the ball and try to make every game a low possession game."

Michigan does the same thing.  Michigan plays at the same pace as Wisconsin, and have been one of the slowest teams in basketball under Beilein. Their entire offensive gameplan is to have long, deliberate offensive possessions while taking few risks so as not to turn it over, and don't crash the offensive glass so they can get back on D.

Same exact philosophy.


January 20th, 2019 at 6:58 PM ^

Wisconsin will take good shots early in possessions too (but both teams do equally rarely).

I would go on to cite a mountain of data that proves the offensive philosophy is almost identical with the same general themes but the fact that people are somehow agreeing with a statement as absurd as "they are nothing like Michigan" indicates it will simply fall on deaf ears.

When Brian says in the preview these teams are mirror images of each other, he is correct.

There is nothing wrong with this. It works great for both teams.  I understand your dislike for Wisconsin makes you want to think Michigan is nothing like them, but they both practice the same offensive philosophy.  Extreme risk avoidance, highly deliberate pace (resulting in almost identically long offensive possession times and slow overall pace), low TOs, etc. etc. etc. 


January 19th, 2019 at 4:22 PM ^

At the beginning of the season, you look at the schedule and figure this game to be a loss. As the season progresses you figure they might have a chance to pull one out in Madison. That, along with the play today is probably why there is a lot of frustration. It's not the end of the world, and there is only one win that really matters, on that Monday night in April.

True Blue Grit

January 19th, 2019 at 4:23 PM ^

It's hard to win a Big Ten game against a solid opponent, especially on the road when two key scorers like Matthews and Brazdeikis combine for 5 points.  I can forgive Iggy as a freshman for having a bad game.  But Matthews as a senior needs to help pull the team up in games like this.  He looked too inactive much of the time on offense, just standing around on the perimeter.  His quickness and athletic ability driving the ball was greatly missed today.  I don't think Wisconsin is that great.  But they seem to have it in for Michigan in that Trohl Center.  

A Lot of Milk

January 19th, 2019 at 4:23 PM ^

Weird take, but I don't feel as bad after losses when we still get to play that team again. Like I hated losing at NW last year because we already had played them at home and I knew we weren't gonna get revenge back until this year. Bucky is gonna get served in a few weeks at Crisler, it's gonna be rocking


January 19th, 2019 at 5:22 PM ^

Eh. Poole sometimes forces questionable jump shots and Iggy tends to force the drives and then just throw it at the rim in those moments. They're all good players but it is true that no one on this team has either the raw athleticism or refinement in their game at this point to play hero ball effectively. Would just assume see Simpson running high pick and roll with Teske in those situations. Need more ball movement too, rather stagnant. But they'll be fine overall in the end.


January 19th, 2019 at 5:42 PM ^

Stick to Michigan hoops. Not the place for positioning on the earth's cooling, warming, etc regardless of your position on it.

The game was not pretty to watch. Had some opportunities to build up the lead in the 2nd half, only to inadvisedly turn the ball over. They made us pay for those mistakes. Not a big deal in the big picture. This team will be just fine.

yossarians tree

January 20th, 2019 at 11:16 AM ^

Eh, I just kind of glazed over the whole AGW metaphor, but the "pre-2012" reference stopped me short. The winter of 2014 was the absolute worst Michigan winter of my 50+ years in this state, and the 2015 winter was almost as bad. All five Great Lakes froze over! There may indeed be global warming but let's not remake history to prove it because that is where people start getting suspicious.


January 20th, 2019 at 9:45 PM ^

That was only because so many guys left for the NBA and Caris got injured.

Seriously man, the metaphor was obviously the only point of the paragraph. I didn't put any time or effort into crafting a climatological argument because I was not making one. I was being wry about the unrealistic expectation to win every game we now have because Beilein's program hasn't lost in months.