Despite the disappointing ending at Breslin Center, Michigan basketball set some high standards in 2018-19.
Most importantly, the Wolverines recorded a 26-5 record, guaranteeing the lowest loss total during the John Beilein tenure. They spent every week in the AP Top-25, including 16 straight in the top-10. The only team to top that was the 2012-13 NCAA finalists.
Michigan also posted a 19-5 mark against the top-100 efficiency teams on Ken Pomeroy. No other Beilein team is even close, including the two that made the NCAA Championship Game.
While the Michigan State game stings for various reasons — bragging rights, conference title and No. 1 seed lost — there’s a lot for the Wolverines to hang their hats on statistically. Let’s take a deep dive at individual and team numbers (both raw and efficiency).
Let’s get the ugly out of the way: the Michigan offense scored just 70.4 points per game, which is tied at 241st in the country alongside the likes of Ohio and South Carolina State.
With that said, even figuring in the implosive second half in East Lansing, this year’s Beilein offense is currently ranked No. 18 in efficiency per Ken Pomeroy. As per usual, that included the third-lowest turnover rate at just on 13.8 percent of possessions.
- The 51.9 effective field goal percentage (No. 121 nationally) is the worst since Michigan missed the tournament in 2015.
- The 35.1 percent 3-point shooting is the fourth-worst of the Beilein era. Only his first three teams (i.e. Manny Harris, DeShawn Sims, etc.) produced lower rates.
- On the brighter side, the team’s free throw percentage climbed 3 percentage points from 66 percent last season to 69.4 percent today.
Here, the raw and efficiency stats match up. Luke Yaklich’s second defense finished No. 3 in the country with just 58.3 points allowed per game. Virginia and Texas Tech are the only teams that stifled scoring better.
It ranked No. 2 in efficiency (just behind the Red Raiders). In 31 games, the defense held opponents under a point per possession in 24 of 31 contests.
The factors that led these suffocating rankings:
- Opponents produced just a 44.3 effective field goal percentage, which is 8th-lowest nationally. That includes just 29.4 percent on 3-pointers and 44.4 percent on twos.
- Despite the the foul party witnessed versus the Spartans, the defense ceded the 10th-lowest free throw attempts (as compared to field goal attempts).
- The defense allowed offensive rebounds on just 25.7 percent of shots, which is the second-best mark of the Beilein era.
Now let’s take a look to see who led the team, as well as who improved the most, in various categories.
- Led by Ignas Brazdeikis (15 points per game)
- Most improvement by Jordan Poole (+7 from 2018 to 2019)
- Led by Jon Teske (7.1)
- Most improvement by Zavier Simpson (+1.9)
- Led by Simpson (6.1)
- Most improvement by Simpson (+2.6)
- Led by Simpson (1.5)
- Most improvement by Poole (+0.5)
- Led by Teske (2.2)
- Most improvement by Teske (+1.5)
In short, this has been a highly successful season statistically. While a 9-5 conclusion cost the program its first regular-season title since 2014, all we be forgiven if the numbers translate to another deep run at the Big Ten Tournament and beyond.