The Michigan Wolverines have been riding high all season long, racking up win after win and looking dominant doing so.
But a trip to Madison, Wisconsin to play the Badgers turned an undefeated season into a record that now stands at 17-1.
17-1 is great, it’s elite, it’s something to be proud of. Michigan can compete with anyone on any given night, but the loss to Wisconsin was a wake up call nonetheless.
The Wolverines faltered down the stretch in the second half. They rushed shots, committed turnovers (a season high 16), and picked up a few careless fouls along the way.
More surprising is the performance from Michigan’s leading scorer, Ignas Brazdeikis, who came into the tilt averaging 15.6 points per game. When the dust settled against Wisconsin, Iggy didn’t score a single point, going 0-for-5 on the day with 3 turnovers.
Just a day ago Brazdeikis made comments about the current No. 1 team in the nation, Duke, saying that he feels Michigan is a better team than the Blue Devils.
“They’ve got that No. 1 team, that No. 1 hype, and we feel like we’re definitely better than them,” Brazdeikis. “We’re just looking forward to playing every single team, and we’re not scared of no competition. We want to play them all.”
Iggy said Michigan wants to play them all, but they have to play ‘them’ one at a time. In order to beat them all, they have to focus on one team at a time.
It’s easy to point fingers in retrospect, to say a team, or a player in this instance was looking ahead, but if you’re going to make a bulletin board material comment like saying you think you’re better than Duke, you cannot go out and have a goose egg your next game.
Further, Wisconsin (now 12-6) was a team heading into the game that had their backs against the wall after losing 4 of their last 5, and there’s a good chance they caught wind of Iggy thinking Michigan is the best team in the nation. And by those standards, Wisconsin was gearing up to play the best team in the country.
Wisconsin didn’t play great, either, much of the second half was sloppy, but they still made a few more shots than Michigan and won.
Michigan didn’t play Beilein ball against the Badgers, they strayed from the fundamentals on both sides of the court, mental lapses occurred, and they weren’t able to turn things around before the final buzzer this time.
In the long run, the loss may be a good thing for Michigan, it may humble them a bit after they’ve started to receive increased praise this season. And for now, debating who’s better between Duke and Michigan should be put on hold.
Michigan has a long way to go to get back to the National Championship Game. They know it, and they realize the type of game they had against Wisconsin will result in a loss in the Big Ten Tournament or the NCAA Tournament.
The loss was cold water thrown in the face of Michigan’s players, and John Beilein isn’t going to be easy on them after this one. Even so, the loss isn’t fatal, it’s just one game, and Michigan has a lot to be proud of.