I made an appearance on 106.5 in Toledo Friday to talk with Bob Frantz about all things Michigan basketball. He focused part of the conversation around how effective the offense could be in the wake of Charles Matthews’ ankle sprain.
After diving into the numbers, the better question might now be: how much better is it without him? When Frantz and I discussed how Ignas Brazdeikis (and Isaiah Livers) would have to take over the scoring load, I didn’t inundate the audience with the stats.
It’s clear, though. Brazdeikis scoring equals a healthy effort from the Wolverine offense. Here are the times he’s scored 15 points or more alongside the points per possession Michigan managed.
- Holy Cross: 19 points (.89 ppp)
- Villanova: 18 points (1.14 ppp)
- Providence: 20 points (1.03 ppp)
- Chattanooga: 20 points (1.24 ppp)
- North Carolina: 24 points (1.2 ppp)
- South Carolina: 17 points (1.25 ppp)
- Air Force: 19 points (1.11 ppp)
- Binghamton: 21 points (1.16 ppp)
- Penn State: 16 points (.94 ppp)
- Illinois: 15 points (1.05 ppp)
- Minnesota: 18 points (.92 ppp)
- Indiana: 20 points (1.05 ppp)
- Iowa: 16 points (.82 ppp)
- Rutgers: 23 points (1.17 ppp)
- MSU: 16 points (1.13 ppp)
- Nebraska: 20 points (1.21 ppp)
- Maryland: 21 points (1.19 ppp)
Just to keep count, that’s 17 times the Canadian freshman has reached or surpassed 15 points in his first season in Ann Arbor. In those games, Michigan has averaged 1.09 points per possession. In the games he doesn’t, the number plummets to .99 per possession.
Those efforts put Michigan closer to the Purdues of the conference offensively, rather than the Nebraskas.
Matthews is clearly one of the centerpiece’s of another nationally elite defense orchestrated by Luke Yaklich. He also rises to the occasion against other NBA prospects, such as the first meeting with Indiana.
The overall offense, however, has thrived in his 2-game absence. In the first game against Nebraska, the No. 55 efficiency defense per Ken Pomeroy, the Wolverines racked up 82 points in a 29-point rout on Senior Night. It shot 30-of-54 from the floor, including 12-of-22 from 3-point land.
An even stiffer test Sunday at Maryland (No. 24 defense) still yielded just under 1.2 points per possession. Part of this uptick is replacing Matthews (a 32.1 percent shooter from deep) with Brazdeikis (40.4 percent) and Livers (43.8 percent).
The pair combined for 12 triples on 23 attempts over the last two victories. While the defense slid backwards a tad, allowing 1.07 points per possession in College Park, it buckled the Cornhuskers down to .78 on Thursday.
The sample size is small. With that said, the early results without Matthews on offense are encouraging, while there’s reason to worry about the defense — especially heading into Breslin Center next weekend.
The nation’s sixth-best offense torched Michigan for 1.24 points per possession last Sunday in Crisler Center. The reliance on Brazdeikis and the addition of Livers to the starting lineup may be the boost in firepower Beilein and company needs to return the favor in East Lansing.