Once again Michigan goes up against a Big Ten opponent that is expected to win, and once again Michigan defies expectations. The Wolverines did this same thing to Wisconsin a week ago. Play a contested first 40 minutes and run out of gas in overtime.
Still, as far as A+ coaching games go, this one has to rank up there with John Beilein's best at Michigan. The Wolverines stymied the Spartans early to control the pace and flow of the first half, and in the second, Michigan's offense was able to keep up with the Spartans thanks to an offense that continued to find ways to attack the paint and open up the floor.
Michigan was led by a red-hot shooting Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who scored 18 points on 14 shots and continually found ways to attack Michigan State's defense. There were times when he was overpowered on drives, but overall Rahk was a big part of Michigan's offense and the only iso threat around these days. Aubrey Dawkins also started and contributed seven points including a big and-1 putback opportunity late in the game.
Meanwhile, Spike Albrecht hit three of his six outside shots, added a couple how'd-he-do-that shots and assists, and willed his way through whatever is ailing him. He had 18 points, two rebounds and two assists.
Inside, Michigan was once again without Mark Donnal, and Ricky Doyle was mysteriously absent for a lot of the game. Whether that is because something is throwing him off his game or Max Bielfeldt just straight up stealing his spot in the rotation is a question. Max was a nearly constant positive force for Michigan. He pulled down seven defensive boards and two on offense, grabbed two steals and had an assist to go along with seven points (on an admittedly groan-worthy 10 shots).
Let's take a second to think about that. Michigan's three biggest forces in the game were two guards nobody else gave much of a look to and a 6'7 post player. All John Beilein everything.
But Michigan State isn't a slouch. Branden Dawson had 19/10 and three steals, Denzel Valentine scored 25 and had seven assists and rebounds. Travis Trice had nine assists, eight points, six rebounds, and two steals.
Michigan, playing down it two best guards and a post player went into East Lansing and took a solid MIchigan State team to overtime. Sure, it didn't go well from there, but if you can't enjoy that back-and-forth affair, you need to get your pulse checked.
Let's see the Pats and Seahawks outplay the undercard.