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:
|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:
|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:
According to STATS, UM is the second school since 1996-97 to have triple-doubles in back-to-back games. Robert Morris did it in 2008.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) December 20, 2015
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:
|Type of Two-Pointer||FGM-FGA||FG%|
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.