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Offensive questions remain for Michigan in win over Minnesota

The Wolverines are not quite slumping, but something needs to change.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan could not afford to drop a second game in a row after taking its first loss last weekend, but the Wolverines appeared to be heading that way against Minnesota. Sure, buzzer beaters are always fun and this will be one to remember, but narrowly beating the Gophers at home is not much of an accomplishment.

Michigan has problems on offense. This is the first time since the first two games of the season that the Maize and Blue has posted back-to-back performances of less than 1.00 points per possession. Tuesday was the offense’s worst effective field goal rate (36.3 percent) of the year as well. There is time for correction, but it needs to happen quickly.

All about the big man

While it seemed like Michigan’s offense revolved around three players, and the fourth option being the facilitating point guard, it turns out the most reliable starter has been the center. Jon Teske came into the season on the upswing, but expectations were fairly low, especially on offense.

Apparently he did not get the message. Teske single-handedly kept Michigan in the first half, going 5-for-5 while the rest of his teammates shot under 30 percent. He ended with 15 points and a couple of key blocks as well. Perhaps most astonishingly, Teske is hitting over 47 percent of his threes in conference games.

Finding an identity

Michigan held the Gophers to just 0.89 points per possession and played solid defense all around. Minnesota did grab a decent number of offensive rebounds, but this has been one of its few strengths this season.

Clearly defense is not the issue for the Wolverines, who still rank third in adjusted defensive efficiency. Rather, it is the offense that looks absolutely clueless for long stretches at a time. Shot selection has been a recurring issue; too many possessions end in forced shots on bad looks. This is compounded by a desire to launch threes, even though Michigan ranks just 131st in the country.

A 3-for-22 effort is the latest blemish on the long-distance numbers, and one has to wonder if head coach John Beilein needs to change his philosophy. This roster is simply not build to rain down threes like its predecessor. Of course, Michigan ranks 107th in two-point accuracy as well, so the solution is not so simple.

A coupe of big bouncebacks

It was clear that Beilein absolutely needed Ignas Brazdeikis to rebound after his scoreless outing, and the freshman had plenty of opportunities throughout the game. He was actually pretty poor in the first half, but went on a nice run after halftime and wound up leading the team in scoring. He did get blocked at the basket on the last possession, but a 18-point, 9-rebound outing with a 31.7 percent usage rate will be enough to get him back on track.

The biggest positive from the game probably came at the last second, though. Charles Matthews had another poor outing, and he failed to reach double-digits again. However, hitting a game winner should be a huge momentum boost, and he did so from a spot on the floor where he has been struggling a ton lately. The Wolverines need their leader to find his grove for the last two months of the season.