This has really been one of the most frustrating seasons of basketball for the Michigan Wolverines in a long time. They have shown they have the capability to blow teams out and look like a juggernaut against Purdue and Michigan State, but they have way too many inconsistencies to be even be considered among the Big Ten’s elite.
A tough 82-71 home loss to the red hot Iowa Hawkeyes — who got a combined 42 points from the exceptional performances of Keegan and Kris Murray — doesn’t necessarily kill Michigan’s NCAA Tournament chances, but it’s going to be an uphill over battle over the next week and a half.
Here are some takeaways from the loss.
The Wolverines dug themselves into a massive hole
That first half was a microcosm of Michigan men’s basketball this season, as defensive miscues combined with a stagnant offense made for a lopsided first half.
Eli Brooks lead that way in that first half with 13 points, including key back-to-back threes to cut the Hawkeye lead to 15. But the Hawkeyes rolled on the offensive end in that first half, with the Murray brothers and Jordan Bohannon scoring just as many points in the first 20 minutes as Michigan’s entire team.
Iowa did a good job defending Hunter Dickinson, who couldn’t get into the same rhythm that led to his dominance against the Spartans on Tuesday. Michigan hasn’t been able to consistently produce on offense this season, especially when Dickinson struggles.
The Wolverines can’t afford to have more halves as bad as that one if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.
Let’s shoutout Eli Brooks and the rest of the seniors
As far as senior night goes, we didn’t see much from Jaron Faulds, Adrien Nunez and Brandon Wade this season. Brandon Johns’ Michigan career has had some high highs and some low lows. DeVante’ Jones has been a spark all season, and was key to Michigan’s 11-2 run in that second half before a few costly turnovers sealed the Wolverines’ faith.
All the seniors got their moment tonight, and the one who will be remembered most fondly is Eli Brooks. He has been a calm veteran presence this season, as the quiet guard leads by example and has helped Michigan through some tough stretches.
Brooks played his butt off in this one, scoring 17 points and fighting until the very end to keep the team in it. If a few more of his shots go down, perhaps Michigan might have been able to steal this one late.
A big reason why Juwan Howard convinced Brooks to come back for another year was his veteran savvy and lack of fear in big moments could have helped lead Michigan to a Big Ten title and a tournament run.
While this season has been far from what Michigan fans have been hoping for, one constant throughout has been the play of “The Professor,” who has helped keep this team on the tournament bubble after some rough losses.
Because of his longevity, leadership and play in clutch moments, he’s a Michigan legend for the rest of his life. I don’t think I’m the only who hopes an NBA team takes a proper chance on him.
Michigan needs to turn it back on to close out the year
We are a week and a half away from Selection Sunday and while the Wolverines are on the right side of the bubble for now, the Iowa loss certainly doesn’t help their case.
To firmly secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament, they need to beat or lose a close game to Ohio State before winning games against quality opponents in the Big Ten Tournament.
After this roller coaster of a season, there’s no more room for error.