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Five Takeaways: Michigan vs. Youngstown State

A look at how rare it is for a school to post back-to-back triple-doubles and four other takeaways from U-M's 105-46 beatdown of the Penguins.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan eviscerated Youngstown State, 105-46, at the Crisler Center on Saturday night to improve to 9-3 with just one non-conference game left. My five takeaways:

1. Michigan Continues to Take Care of Business vs. Inferior Teams

For the past two weeks, it's been difficult to glean much from Michigan's wins because these have been guarantee games. However, if we have learned anything, it's that Michigan beats up on bad teams. Every single one of them. With its 59-point win over Youngstown State, Michigan is 7-0 against opponents that are outside the KenPom top 200 or D-II schools with an average margin of victory of 35.3 points. None of the wins have been close either. Northern Kentucky is the only one that wasn't defeated by at least 20 points, and that was a 15-point game. And some of these beatdowns have been so brutal that this Michigan team has made some new entries in the program's record book:

Largest Margin of Victory in Michigan History
Rank Date Opponent Margin of Victory
1 February 14, 1919 Detroit Naval Station 60 (67-7)
2 December 19, 2015 Youngstown State 59 (105-46)
3 January 11, 1946 Chicago 58 (81-23)
4 November 26, 2015 Charlotte 55 (102-47)
5 December 7, 2013 Houston Baptist 54 (107-53)
6 February 5, 1955 Los Angeles State 53 (92-39)
7 December 12, 1987 Eastern Michigan 52 (115-63)
t-8 December 20, 1988 Northern Michigan 50 (125-75)
December 9, 1991 Chicago State 50 (112-62)
t-10 December 7, 1936 Michigan Normal 49 (61-12)
December 21, 1988 Youngstown State 49 (121-72)
December 6, 1989 Central Michigan 49 (100-51)
t-13 November 30, 1977 Eastern Michigan 48 (117-69)
December 1, 1979 Massachusetts 48 (112-64)
February 22, 1998 Indiana 48 (112-64)
t-16 December 16, 2015 Delaware State 47 (80-33)

Though Michigan doesn't have a resume that screams NCAA Tournament team because of its uncompetitive losses to Xavier, UConn, and SMU, U-M also doesn't have any bad losses, which is something various Big Ten teams wish they could claim. And, not only does Michigan not have any bad losses, the Wolverines haven't even been scared once.

2. The Week of the Triple-Double

Last Monday on December 14th, there had been three triple-doubles in Michigan history:

Date Opponent Player Points Rebounds Assists
March 14, 1987 North Carolina Gary Grant 24 10 10
November 14, 2009 Northern Michigan Manny Harris 18 13 10
January 30, 2011 Iowa Darius Morris 12 10 11

One week later, there have been five.

On Tuesday against Northern Kentucky, Caris LeVert tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. In Michigan's next game against Youngstown State on Saturday, Derrick Walton followed with a 10-point, 11-rebound, 13-assist effort. Clearly, it's the first time in program history that Michigan has had a triple-double in back-to-back games, and according to STATS, U-M is only the second school to accomplish the feat since 1996-97:

When Robert Morris did it in 2008, both triple-doubles were attained by the same player, Tony Lee, who became the sixth player in D-I history to record triple-doubles in consecutive games. We'll see if Walton becomes the seventh on Wednesday vs. Bryant.

Even if Walton doesn't, he and LeVert became the second and third Big Ten players to post a triple-double this season. The only other one is Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, who had a triple-double against Kansas (29-12-12) and another against Boston College (29-11-10). I guess the Mitten State is the place to be looking for triple-doubles this year.

3. Michigan Got to the Rim With Ease

Usually, when Michigan has torched an opponent on offense under John Beilein, it's with its three-point shooting. Beilein's teams tend to fire lots of threes and make them at a high rate. That's been no different this season as Michigan is 22nd in three-point-attempt rate (44.9 pct.) and 17th in three-point conversion rate (41.3 pct). That's very impressive.

However, though Michigan drilled 12-of-30 threes (40.0 pct.) against Youngstown State, which is near U-M's season average, that was not the main reason why the Wolverines amassed a season-high 105 points, which is just the fifth time that they have cracked triple digits in Beilein's eight-plus seasons at the helm, and 1.492 points per possession. The main reason why is that they made a staggering 28-of-35 two-pointers (80.0 pct.). And, when those twos are broken down, it's clear why Michigan made such a high rate:

Breakdown of Michigan's Two-Pointers vs. Youngstown State
Type of Two-Pointer FGM-FGA FG%
Dunk 7-7 100.0%
Layup 10-11 90.9%
Jumper 11-17 64.7%

Over half of Michigan's two-point attempts were either dunks or layups (18), and that doesn't even include the close-range shots around the rim, which are tallied as jumpers rather than layups in the official play-by-play. So it's likely that Michigan had even more than 18 field-goal attempts that were within five feet of the basket. And many of those were wide open because, thanks to Derrick Walton (13 assists) and Caris LeVert (five assists), Michigan picked apart Youngstown State's zone defenses, getting the ball into the middle of the zone and finding teammates on the baseline for easy looks at the rim.

However, that Michigan was able to do this isn't much of a surprise. The Penguins have an awful defense (316th in adjusted efficiency), particularly when it involves guarding the paint (318th in two-point defense). Michigan exploited this weakness as much as it possibly could, but it's hard to imagine this'll reoccur once U-M faces Big Ten defenses.

4. Hain Halted

One encouraging sign that could mean something for the future is how Michigan defended Youngstown State's 6-foot-10 center, Bobby Hain. He entered Saturday's matchup averaging 14.0 PPG and 7.4 RPG, and there's no need to rehash the troubles that Michigan's defense has had with interior scorers. However, Hain didn't come close to his season per-game averages against the Wolverines, posting only seven points on 3-of-10 shooting and one rebound. Though Hain can step back and hit mid-range jumpers, what was noteworthy was that not one of his 10 field-goal attempts was a dunk or layup. Michigan did an excellent job preventing him from entering the paint, which decreased his chances of scoring or grabbing an offensive rebound. This could mean Michigan's centers are improving on that end of the floor, but, because the Penguins are not a team that inflicts much damage around the rim, we need more evidence before we're certain.

5. D.J. Wilson Saw Limited Action after Missing Two Games

Speaking of Michigan's centers, D.J. Wilson made his return to the court after missing the Delaware State and Northern Kentucky games with a sprained right ankle. Wilson wasn't expected to appear against Youngstown State because, on Friday, John Beilein informed us that Wilson had participated only in half-court situations in practice. But, with Michigan nursing a 49-point lead with 6:10 left, Beilein opted to insert Wilson and give him some run in those final minutes. Wilson performed well in that stretch, scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, but he still didn't seem to be 100 percent. At times, it looked like Wilson was slightly limping, so I wonder if Beilein will play him this Wednesday.