The first loss was inevitable. The Big Ten is too deep and has too many hostile environments to escape completely unscathed, and it felt like Michigan’s trip to Madison was as likely as any to bring the first blemish to the resume. Fittingly it happened just one game after setting a new program-best with a 17-0 start.
Michigan still has absolutely everything to play for and this bump in the road cannot escalate to be anything more than that. There are 13 more conference games to go and little time to sulk.
Not much went right
To start with a positive, Michigan did play decently well on defensive. Wisconsin obviously has a slower style, but the tempo-free numbers still look good. The Badgers recorded only 0.97 PPP on a 49.1 percent eFG. These are not dominant defensive numbers, but are good enough to win most games.
However, the other end of the floor was miserable: 0.82 PPP, a season low, 45.4 percent eFG, and 24.2 percent turnover rate, also a season worst. The most troubling aspect of the offense was the lack of intelligence. Too many times Michigan settled for awful looks; long-range twos and errant passes were not going to be a winning combination.
The referees were not in favor of the visitors, especially when it came to offensive fouls. Still, the strategy should have been to attack the hoop. Going 5-for-18 from mid-range and 5-for-18 from deep tells the whole story.
Everyone to blame
Jon Teske led the team with 15 points and added seven rebounds and four blocks. He was the only Wolverine to play a complete game and has suddenly become one of the most reliable components. Zavier Simpson also looked decent, although his contribution was muted.
Aside from those two, it was not pretty. Jordan Poole did have 14 points, but he was just 1-for-5 from outside (making him 6-for-24 over his past five games). Fans have been joking that he is not NBA-ready in hopes the he will stay another year; at this rate that might be reality.
Charles Matthews is officially broken. He cannot do anything unless it is directly under the rim, and three turnovers is unacceptable, especially on a 15.5 percent usage rate. The shine has also worn off for Ignas Brazdeikis, who somehow managed to go scoreless. The freshman is an electric talent, but he still has plenty of growing to do.
Take a deep breath
It feels weird to write about a basketball loss, but it was probably a good time for a reset. Playing at Wisconsin has always been tough, and perhaps this can be a learning experience for a team that has been rolling.
Michigan falls behind in the Big Ten standings, but there is still plenty of time to make up ground. No, the team will not earn the No. 1 spot in the polls this week, but they still have a great shot at a No. 1 seed when it actually matters.
Instead of focusing on the outside, the Wolverines need to regroup internally, starting with the offense. There is plenty of talent on the roster, but there needs to be a better effort throughout conference play. Settling for outside jumpers is not going to cut it. Now is the time for a mid-season reset.