Something happened to the Michigan Wolverines Sunday that hadn’t happened in the 2012-2013 NCAA Basketball season. The young Michigan team experienced their first loss and now has a 16-1 record. The team had a chance to become the number one team in the nation with a win, but instead fell to Big Ten rival Ohio State University 56-53. Michigan’s loss also marked the fall of the last unbeaten team. I still think the team can win the NCAA National Championship, but they have a lot to learn from today’s loss.
So why was the loss a good thing for the Wolverines? Well if you saw the game you will know the fact they didn’t get blown out was a positive. The team started out the contest 3-0 and then never had a lead again. Michigan trailed by as much as 21 points in the first half and came back to a 12 point first half deficit. In the second team, Michigan tied up the contest on several occasions.
Michigan is a deep team, rotating in 11 players during most games. However, the team is extremely young and normally has three starting freshman, a sophomore and a junior. I say the loss was good, because it gives the team a chance to see what areas can be improved on. Prior to the loss, the team had only faced one ranked team (North Carolina State). It’s first three Big Ten games were against lesser opponents that it blew out by double digits.
Michigan has now posted its two lowest point totals in back to back conference games. The team shot only 38% from the field in Sunday’s loss. The team will be more selective with shots in its next game against Minnesota. In the second half, when the team was cutting into the Buckeyes deficit, the team was rushing down and popping three point shots. I’m glad the team got this out of its system, because it won’t work in the NCAA Tournament. The team needs to play better team basketball moving forward.
Freshman sensation Nik Stauskas had possibly the worst game of his basketball career. Stauskas started the game and found himself with a zero in the points column for the first time. In fact, other than the team’s first game where Stauskas had only seven points, Nik had put up double digit in points in the other 15 games.
The game also marked the first time Stauskas has not hit a three point shot during a game. Stauskas, the nation’s leading three point percentage shooter (.523), went 0-3 on all three triple shots he took. Michigan should learn from this as he needs to get better looks and should still be given the ball when he shoots cold. The team shot only 30% from behind the three point line.
Playing Ohio State is always emotional for sophomore point guard and team leader Trey Burke. The young Wolverines star is from Columbus, Ohio and wasn’t recruited by the Buckeyes. Burke posted a team high 15 points, but shot less than 33% and also had four turnovers. Burke needs to settle down in big games and be able to lead the team, while also protecting the ball. Several passes made in the game looked absolute undisciplined.
Michigan is not out of the Big Ten race or even the race for a number one seed. In my Big Ten projections, I saw Michigan losing twice and winning the conference. The Big Ten is just too good for anyone to go undefeated this season in league play. Michigan will need to respond early as they now take on top ten Minnesota on the road in a very challenging game. Look for the young team to rally and respond.