I'm not going to write 1,000 words on yesterday's debacle against Ohio State. Partially because I don't want to relive much of it, partially because I'm still frustrated and a trip to Mr. Spots didn't help, and partially because that a loss like this -- maybe not as bad, but still -- probably could have been anticipated. Ohio State was as dominant as I've seen them be all year, perhaps excepting their bloodletting of Duke, and it's exceedingly hard to beat an opponent like that. Jared Sullinger was dialed in, Deshaun Thomas had another excellent game against Michigan and most importantly, the Buckeye defense was extremely active and stifled most of Michigan's offensive sets. Throw in Trey Burke's worst performance of the season, a boatload of turnovers, and poor shooting from everyone, and there's Ohio State's blowout.
I don't think it would do much good to delve too far into why the game went wrong, because it's blindingly obvious. Despite rebounding pretty well and getting to the line a bit, Michigan's offense was dreadful. Trey Burke must have been exhausted after playing 45 minutes against Minnesota and then playing a game the next day. He had what was easily his worst game of his career; 1-11 from the field, 8 turnovers, and 5 points. It goes without saying that Michigan can't afford to have its best player play so badly. The Wolverines aren't going to win too many games with 18 turnovers and 4-25 shooting from the field, and they can't afford to have Jordan Morgan and Evan Smotrycz get totally dominated inside (which isn't as likely, considering that there are only a few better post players than Sullinger). Across the board, it was a terrible game, and I don't think much more needs to be said about why it was.
Still, what's a little disconcerting is that this debacle happened so late in the season. Michigan's loss, if anything, painfully showed how deficient the team is in certain areas. When Michigan's playing well, the offense runs smoothly, shooters get open looks in rhythm, cutters get open looks at the basket, and the offense looks as good as anyone's. Unfortunately, it's too reliant on Burke's production to run well, and you saw what happens when opponents take him out of the game. The Wolverines need to play extremely well on defense to make up for their pronounced lack of athleticism as well. Guys like Zack Novak and Evan Smotrycz simply can't handle big athletic four men like a Deshaun Thomas (or Mike Scott, if you remember the Virginia game). Michigan thrives off of mismatches with opponents -- usually they're to Michigan's benefit -- but that one is a particularly bad one. It's never good to enter the tournament on the heels of a bad loss, so I'm a little concerned to see how the Wolverines respond in what will likely be the 3/14 game this week. I'll be back later tonight for a quick reaction on the tournament seeding.