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Ten things I hate about that Michigan State game

Catchier than "the 1,087,540 things I hate about that Michigan State game."

This picture didn't make the list, but only because I didn't see it before I had ten.
This picture didn't make the list, but only because I didn't see it before I had ten.

One, the four factors graph

Whoa-ho-ho-ho boy, this one is a doozy. If you showed this to me last week and asked me who I thought the blue team was, I would have then said Penn State. Then you would have said "no guess again" and I would reply "Penn State" (they bad, yo).

But no, this one is all Michigan, and it paints a grim picture. Michigan lost -- and lost big -- in every important statistical category. MSU's defense held Michigan's eFG% to a paltry 45% while forcing turnovers on one quarter of Michigan's possessions, which is also the worst TO% of the year for the Wolverines. Michigan was also manhandled on the boards, with Michigan State doubling up Michigan's offensive rebounding rate. Finally, I think the fact that Michigan only shot six free throws is a pretty good indication of the level and efficiency of Michigan's offense in the game.

Seriously, this four factors graph can go die. Now.

Two, this quote

"We got killed, man, and it's embarrassing that everyone was watching on national TV. We just got embarrassed." - Tim Hardaway Jr. (via. Kyle Meinke)

That just hurts. I can just see Tim saying it, slumped over in the chair after the game wanting to be anywhere else but where he is. I can't imagine there was another Michigan player that felt lower after that game than Tim. He had, unquestionably the worst game of his career. From the floor, Hardaway hit just one shot. He missed five twos and five threes and added no assists or steals. The numbers are bad, but watching it unfold was worse. Hardaway never once looked comfortable on offense. He couldn't handle heavy pressure on the perimeter, couldn't get into the lane, and couldn't get any of his remotely open shots to fall.

It was a massive and complete failure, and while it is a bit harsh to say that Tim was the biggest reason Michigan lost, it is undeniable that he is the second most important offensive player, and Michigan State completely neutralized him. Tim has had off days in the past, and the rest of his season has been very solid to date, so I won't say that the sky is falling. However, this kind of thing really cannot happen again if Michigan wants any chance doing anything of note the rest of the season.

I don't think anyone knows that more than Tim. Head up, kid.

Three, Pitt is ahead of Michigan in Kenpom's rankings now and this guy sucks

Last night in one of the comment sections here, there was a Pitt troll.

You guys have the most pathetic defense ever
don't see you going past the second round at best or how you could be ranked Top 10. You shouldn't be anywhere near the Top 25 with this performance.

You guys are beyond awful. I can't believe my team - Pitt - actually lost to this team a few weeks back, but Pitt is much improved also in that time.

What? Go back to the ACC Big East.

Four, Nix in the post

Courtesy of UMHoops' Five Key Plays

Post defense was definitely an area of concern coming into the game. I'm not sure anyone predicted that things would get this out of hand.

In hindsight, there were warning signs. Michigan was allowing one of the highest two point shooting percentages in the conference coming into the game (dead last now), Jordan Morgan was hobbled with an ankle injury, and Mitch McGary was making his first college start. Of course: Michigan State made 54 percent of its twos*, Morgan might as well have been in a cast (there was one dunk early over Morgan that I can't find video of. That is probably for the best), and McGary looked like a freshman making his first start at a road game against his team's biggest basketball rival.

I think this was the most startling thing about this game. I knew Michigan's offense was going to struggle to an extent (although my estimate was a bit off), but I thought that Michigan's defense would be able to hold serve a bit better than it did. A lot of that came from interior defense, or an almost complete lack thereof.

*(The one stat I remember from halftime: MSU had as many points in the paint (24) as Michigan had points in the half.)

Five, Michigan's freshmen

Well, I don't hate them. I just hate the game they had against Michigan State. Nik Stauskas did by far the best of the three freshman starters, and that was scoring 10 points while only adding three rebounds with two turnovers. Not terrible, until you consider that Gary Harris had a helluva day taking advantage of Stauskas on the other side of the court. Mitch McGary had a couple nice baskets, but he managed just four rebounds in 27 minutes while adding no blocks or steals. Glenn Robinson didn't even stay in the game. He played just 21 minutes, missed three of his four shots, and added two rebounds and only one each of the following: assist, steal, foul, turnover.

This is beginning to look like a troubling trend for Glenn Robinson III. Here is his eFG%, 3pt%, and Off. rating through conference play.

The first dip is the OSU/Minn back to back from January. Then Purdue/Illinois/Northwestern shot Robinson's production back up before this latest fall. Brian at MGoBlog sums it up like so:

And poof like that he's gone. Glenn Robinson III's cliff-dive is now undeniable. He'd put up at least eight points in every game this season other than a couple of low-major blowouts; in the three recent losses he's acquired 2, 4, and 2 points. Michigan stashed him on the bench for half of this one, choosing to go with a clumsy two-big lineup for large chunks of the game. Robinson has to score if he's going to be out there against Adriean Payne, and as soon as he put up that ugly brick on one of those pass-up-a-set-open-three-for-a-pullup-two shots that are just the worst, you could see that Michigan wasn't getting anything from him.

Part of that is the permissivity of Michigan's defense in these games. It's hard to get into transition, where Robinson has made a lot of hay, when you're picking the ball out of the basket every time down the court.

Earlier in the year I thought that Stauskas was the biggest beneficiary of Michigan's offensive style and Trey Burke's explosion into a bonafide KPOY candidate. I see now that I was wrong. Stauskas got a lot of open three point shots, but he has gotten a few of those in even the rough games. However, Robinson III cleaned up when Michigan was humming. Think about it: the whole thing is focused around A) a fantastic point guard and B) two swingmen that could stretch the floor. This spread defenses thin and as Michigan found ways to get Trey Burke into the lane, the most common beneficiary was Robinson III. He was either cleaning the glass for a putback, a quick pass away on the opposite block, or a kickout pass from an embarrassingly open three. His versatility and athleticism (as well as the four spot in Beilein's offense) gave him a lot of different opportunities to be the guy on the receiving end of an assist. All the while, Robinson III was able to do most of it as the fourth most concerning weapon on offense. As Brian said, the fastbreak opportunities were a big part of Robinson's game, but these last few games have shown what isn't: creating his own shot.

Six, whoever makes the Big Ten basketball schedules

Seriously, who the hell sets any team up for a four-game ten-day stretch like that? I mean, it looked brutal before the season, but given how good the Big Ten has been this year, the fact that Michigan just:

- Played three teams ranked in the top ten at the time of the game
- Those four teams (plus Michigan) combined for 42 Big Ten wins so far (the rest of the conference has just 25).
- Of those four teams' 11 combined losses, seven came in games against the Big Ten top five.
- Three of the games were on the road.
- Two of the games went to overtime.

- Again, all of this happened over ten days.

Hey, scheduling guy. Stop that.

Seven, that Michigan State was going for the alley-oops late

That brings back bad memories, man.

Eight, Michigan doesn't control its own destiny in the Big Ten anymore

Had Michigan won, it would have been tied with Michigan State and Indiana in wins (with the Hoosiers possessing one last loss) and ahead of both Wisconsin (8-3) and Ohio State (7-4) in the title race. All Michigan would have had to do is win out to ensure at least a share of the conference title. Now, Michigan needs help.

While Michigan can still win out and make it to 14-4, the Wolverines would still need a couple things to happen. First, while both Michigan State and Indiana have an additional loss to Michigan in this scenario, that still puts the Hoosiers and Spartans at just three losses. One will naturally be eliminated when the Hoosiers visit the Breslin next week, but Michigan will need help getting a loss out of the other one. The even worse part? Michigan probably wants to root for MSU in this one, since the Spartans have a harder final stretch with four straight vs. Indiana, at Ohio State, at Michigan, and vs. Wisconsin. Even worse than that? If the Badgers win out they would still have an advantage on Michigan in the conference win column which would no doubt cause me to pass out from concentrating too hard trying to time traveling back to last Saturday to foul Ben Brust myself.

Nine, rebounding (and turnovers)

After that game, I hate the whole concept of rebounding. Screw it, let's just collect all missed shots in a big barrel and then distribute them to the needy like food stamps. Each player with his own meager share of rebounds with which he may do what he pleases. Want a putback dunk? Save your rations you greedy capitalist pig.

As it stands, Michigan was manhandled on the boards in what is becoming a big cliche. Michigan State has pretty much marked this rivalry -- or lack thereof, amirite Spartan brahs?* -- on a near total domination of the glass. Michigan State has always been a very good rebounding team, and Michigan really hasn't. This year was supposed to be different. Coming into this game, both teams had nearly identical numbers in conference when it came to rebounding, and Michigan was actually slightly ahead. That was pretty much blown up from the beginning as Michigan State rebounded twice as many offensive opportunities as Michigan (36.8% to 18.2%).

That wasn't the only place Michigan was doubled up, as the Wolverines -- previously one of the absolute best teams in the country at avoiding turnovers -- coughed up twice as many as Michigan State in the game. Michigan ended up turning the ball over on one-quarter of its possessions. The Wolverines have been ten percentage points better on average this year.

*(I keed, I keed)

Ten, that Trey Burke did that all for naught

Lost among all the ineptitude everywhere else, Trey Burke had himself quite the efficient game. Now, granted Burke was harassed into not only a couple really stupid fouls, but almost completely out of the offense. Keith Appling spent the majority of the game nearly tucked into Burke's waistband, and while Michigan couldn't get much of anything set up in the halfcourt -- and no one outside of Burke could create shots for themselves or others -- Burke was still able to post an offensive rating of 149.2 thanks to shooting 4 of 6 from two and 3 of 5 from three with three assists and two turnovers. Michigan State did a good job of keeping Michigan from setting up or executing much of anything in the halfcourt, instead deciding to pressure Burke heavily on the perimeter and make him either give the ball up early in the possession or try to get a shot himself. He continually got his own shot, and even made them with remarkable consistency.

It was evident just how screwed Michigan is without Burke when he briefly sat with four fouls in the second half before it became obvious that Michigan would lose by one billion if he was pulled that early.

In the end, Michigan didn't have enough around Burke to mount a serious challenge, and Burke faced such heavy pressure that it was very difficult for him to facilitate anything for anyone else.

Now, we have one less game of Trey Burke in a Michigan uniform, and we have to remember that as part of his final season at Michigan.

I would tell you where this game can shove it, but this is a family blog.

Honorable mention: Gary Harris does a better Nik Stuaskas than Nik Stuaskas (or at this point is it a Gary Harris? I'm confused); Facebook is brutal after these things; KENPOM WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!? TWO POINTS !?; that "one-seed" thing; everything about the Breslin Center; that Dawson dunk; and finally, my stupid insistence to watch that entire thing.