Though it feels like Michigan was on a downward trend after a couple poor outings, Indiana made it clear which team is actually in disarray. From facilities malfunctions to on-court performance, it was a not a pretty showing for the home team on Friday night. The Wolverines are still piecing everything back together, but road wins in the Big Ten are never a bad thing.
For Michigan, it was important to see some decent offense after back-to-back struggles. The Maize and Blue did just enough to show some life, using an adequate 51.7 percent eFG to fuel 1.04 PPP. Though neither number is off the charts, the stats represent a much needed step in the right direction.
Cling to the identity
To call Indiana’s offense sputtering may be an understatement; a host of injuries have led the way to six straight losses, with the previous three games featuring under 1.00 PPP. However, against Michigan the Hoosiers scored just 0.70 PPP and a 30.2 percent eFG, both easily season-worsts.
The Wolverines were smothering. Jordan Poole had three steals, Jon Teske had a pair of blocks, and Indiana could find no consistent source of offense. Defense is this team’s identity and its greatest strength. The Hoosiers shot just 34 percent from two and 15 percent from three. Holding teams to those numbers will win every single game.
Most of the preseason hype in the Big Ten went the way of five-star Romeo Langford, who is projected by most outlets as a lottery pick this year. While Langford does lead his team in scoring, he was not the most impressive freshman on the floor on Friday.
That honor belongs to Ignas Brazdeikis, who is proving that his Wisconsin shutout was simply an off day. The rookie led the Wolverines in scoring and usage rate, going 5-for-7 from two and 3-for-5 behind the arc, multiple times quieting a small run by the Hoosiers. He has now reached at least 15 points in six of his last nine games.
Time to move forward
Michigan took 29 threes, which is its most in a conference game this season. 10 went in, good for a 34.5 percent rate, which is passable but not dominant by any means. The Wolverines are just 136th in the country in accuracy, and it may be time to shed the tendencies of past teams.
There is not one single culprit, but it just does not make sense for the Wolverines to take so many shots from behind the arc with such average numbers. Only Poole (42.0 percent) and Isaiah Livers (41.7 percent) are over the 40 percent mark, and while three other rotation players sit around 35 percent, three-point shooting is no longer the asset for Michigan that it used to be.
Too many times this season has this very subject been a talking point. In Big Ten play the Wolverines are second in two-point shooting but just ninth in shooting threes. It is time for the offense to move forward.