It is safe to say that as a whole, the Michigan basketball team was flat out out-played Sunday afternoon at Crisler Arena. From the opening tip, the Wolverines found themselves searching for answers to the physicality and determination that Wisconsin showed. Rather quickly, the Wolverines ended up down by more than 10 points and I quietly fell asleep in my lazy boy. I woke up at half time to see Wisconsin winning 34-19, the lowest first half point total all season for the Wolverines.
From the second half on, Michigan did show signs of life, going shot for shot with the Badgers in the second half and cutting the deficit to less than six at some point. The problem for the Wolverines was the lack of emotion while playing at home. Bo Ryan‘s team came to play and pounded the Wolverines on the boards, beat them to loose balls, and played like they were looking for blood. Thank god the Wolverines have Caris Levert, who at one point in the second half went 5-5 for three point shots while the rest of his team went 0-5. Levert finished up with a career high 25 points and Wisconsin walked out with a victory.
Should Wolverine fans be worried? I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet, but my hand would be inching closer to it if I was a member of the maize and blue faithful. While they are 18-7, this loss at home was a big loss for Michigan and it helped out their little brother, Michigan State. Aside from that, the Wolverines have now gone 2-3 in their last five outings after winning three straight against top 10 teams.
What’s most alarming after this most recent loss is the way it all went down. Levert is not capable of carrying the team by himself and on Sunday, that’s exactly what he did. Aside from Levert, Nick Stauskas was the only other Wolverine that scored in double digits with 12 points. The lack of rebounding and forcing turnovers is also a little bothersome for me.
After forcing just two turnovers all game, Michigan has to come out with more intensity if they are going to remain in the driver’s seat of the Big 10 Championship. With a loss on Sunday, Michigan State now has sole control of first place and they will travel to Ann Arbor next Sunday to avenge an earlier loss in East Lansing. The Wolverines also have to get more guys involved; there is no way they are going to be able to stay in games without forcing turnovers, grabbing rebounds, and going cold from the field for a majority of the game.
Expect the Wolverines to come out with a lot more emotion in their next game against Michigan State, but don’t expect them to have the same results as the first time these two teams met last month. Michigan State is getting healthy at the right time, especially with the return of Adreian Payne, a big guy who is surely going to give Jordan Morgan fits down low next week.