The fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines earned their shot at making Tuesday night’s game a showdown between two of the nation’s top four teams, but it was the top-ranked Louisville Cardinals that walked out with the victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge by a score of 58-43.
Shooting was a problem for the Wolverines all night in what was a largely uninspiring offensive effort. Michigan shot just 26 percent on the night and 16 percent from three-point range. The leading scorer on the evening was Jon Teske with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Michigan went into the locker room at the half down 28-18 after going down by as many as 15 in the first 20 minutes of play. They would claw back coming out of the locker room to get the lead back down to four points at 30-26 in favor of the Cardinals, but they simply could not hang and squandered opportunities to complete their comeback, ultimately losing by double-digits.
That was not fun to watch and the above is pretty much all you need to know recap-wise. Let’s move onto the other stuff.
- Well, that sucked, but it felt like it was due to come eventually with how well this team has shot the basketball all season long. First and foremost, hats off to Louisville tonight. They did not play excellent either, but it says a ton about the quality of a team that you can still mostly dominate while still not playing your best basketball. They smother you defensively and this one felt a lot like the Texas Tech game in the Sweet 16 last year that Michigan lost. With all of that said, this felt like too much too fast for the Wolverines. As recently as Friday, they were in another country after playing three basketball games in three days and emptying the tank in wins over a pair of top-ten teams. Most everyone looked mentally and physically exhausted in this one. Michigan found its second wind early in the second half, but then the legs got tired, mistakes piled up and when the clock hit zero, 58-43 was the final result. There are fans who will put a ton of stock into this one, but in the vacuum of one game, it’s hard to get too concerned about the offensive output because the body of work to this point has been so good. They probably are not as explosive offensively as they have been playing, but this was definitely an outlier.
- Obviously when you lose the way that Michigan did on Tuesday night, pretty much everybody is going to finish in the minus column in the +/- category. Two of the most eye opening were Zavier Simpson (-18) and Franz Wagner (-16). Neither guy played particularly well, namely Wagner, who is still knocking the rust off in his fourth game since returning from the wrist injury in a matchup with Jordan Nwora. Juwan Howard allowed him to work through some tough stretches and hopefully this will be a good learning experience for him. As far as Simpson and Isaiah Livers (3 points, 1-for-9 shooting) go, we have discussed here before this year on this site that those guys are going to have to set the tone and that this team will go as they go, especially in games like this. Those performances did not help the upset bid and Simpson specifically finished with more turnovers (4) than assists (3). Concerns over his play have been a tad bit overblown, but this was not a good night for him.
- Shoutout to the Michigan defense tonight. That can travel in games like this and it gave the Wolverines a chance to stay in this one if the offense could muster a pulse.
- It is time for Dick Vitale to retire. That was a brutal broadcast and I need an aspirin.
Next up for Michigan is the Big Ten conference opener on Friday night against Iowa at Crisler Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET and will be televised via Fox Sports 1.