Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yes, Michigan is improved. But let's not get carried away.

Michigan defeated Northeastern handily last night, 76-56 in Ann Arbor. Now, much to my surprise, this comes as somewhat of a shock to some in the blogosphere. To be fair, these guys classified a potential Northeastern win as an "upset," but if enough guys see an upset, is it?

But Northeastern was about as good as Northwestern last year, according to Pythagoras. Furthermore, they both bring back a ton of minutes. So really, imagine that it was the Wildcats coming to play in Ann Arbor instead of the Huskies. Is that an especially ripe game for an upset? I think Northwestern is improved and all, and maybe if this game had been on a neutral floor...but with the home crowd at their back, you gotta go with the favorite.

In any case, Manny was again spectacular, scoring 26 points on 9 shots (along with 10 boards, 8 assists, and 4 TOs). The Wolverines were not as perimeter focused this game, devoting less than a third of their field goal attempts to 3 pointers. Partly as a result, they shot 26 free throws on just 43 FGAs, and they made all but one of them. Of course, the Wolverines did turn it over 14 times in a 59 possession game, which isn't so good. Michigan lit the nets on fire everywhere, shooting 35.7% on 3s and 62.1% from 2, and you won't lose many games doing that.

Glad to see my message is getting through to Beilein, as Sims saw 32 minutes last night, second only to Manny's 37. Starter, shmarter, it's minutes that matter. Sims and Harris combined to score 59% of Michigan's points, which sounds about right. Box score.

As for the "not getting carried away" part - this was a home game against a team that likely won't be making the NCAA Tournament this year. Michigan should have won this game, and they did. Victory does not ensure their place in the field of 65. Indeed, there are still things to work on here, most notably the Wolverines' spotty defensive rebounding over these two games.


Anonymous said...

The reason so many people would not have been surprised if Northeastern won is because they're allegedly the trendy pick to win the Colonial over George Mason and VCU. And while Northeastern is about as good as Northwestern, remember Northwestern *beat* Michigan in Crisler last season for Northwestern's only Big Ten win.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody watch that game last night? I mean did you see Northeastern's free throw defense? It was atrocious! I don't even know why they lined up when Michigan took free throws, they'd have been better off smoking stogies on their bench and trying to blow smoke into the shooter's eyes. I don't know who their coach is, but after that performance he'd be out on his ass if I was AD. Also, Beilein's boys shot a whopping 35.7% from long range last night, bringing their season mark to 34.2%, while for the second straight game they shot above 60% from inside the arc, early reports indicate they're not the bombing Beilein's anymore.

Mike said...

I must admit, I thought Michigan would have a tougher time with Northeastern than they did. I'm more optimistic about Michigan's season now than I was yesterday; that said, I'm still not ready to project them as an NCAA Tournament team, but the potential is there.