It’s starting to feel like the Michigan Wolverines are living in Groundhog’s Day. Despite making a push in that second half, Michigan was bad late in the game and lost a close one in Wisconsin, 64-59.
At this point in the season, Wisconsin is in a very similar spot to Michigan. They both entered the game with 14 wins, with the Badgers losing five of their last seven and two games behind the Wolverines in the Big Ten standings. Much like Michigan, Wisconsin needs to win just about every game down the stretch to make the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams needed this game and the Badgers played like they wanted this one more.
Here are some takeaways from the loss.
Yet again, Michigan can’t close
The Wolverines really crumble when the game is on the line.
This has been the biggest problem for the Wolverines all year long, and it happened again. After cutting the Wisconsin lead to one after a 12-1 run, Hunter Dickinson and Will Tschetter combined to go 1-of-4 from the line and a late turnover from Dug McDaniel sealed the deal.
Wisconsin made its free throws on the other end and despite the Badgers not scoring a field goal in the final 10:45 of the game, making those free throws late was enough to win.
This Michigan team is brutal to watch late in games, and these tight losses have to be extremely frustrating for the young team.
A brutal stretch in the second half
Wisconsin went on a 9-2 run early in the second half in a 3.5-minute span where the Wolverines turned over the ball five times, Tschetter picked up three quick fouls and the Badgers took what was at that point the largest lead in the game.
That quickly expanded to a 15-4 run, where Michigan couldn’t get a stop and couldn’t get out of its own way offensively. Props to Kobe Bufkin (team-high 21 points) for putting another masterful performance and shooting Michigan out of that run, but the Wolverines could never get the lead back after this run.
Terrible stretches like that happen way too often for the Wolverines. That’s a big reason why their March Madness hopes keep dwindling.
Dickinson embraces the hate
It’s no secret Hunter Dickinson and Wisconsin don’t exactly have the greatest relationship.
ROUNDBALL BACK ON THE BIG SCREEN @H_Dickinson24 pic.twitter.com/S4OASFwodv— RoundBall Podcast (@roundballpod) February 15, 2023
On the broadcast, you could hear the boos rain down every time Dickinson touched the ball. He fed off that hate all game, embracing his role as the WWE heel of college basketball.
Hunter Dickinson is either going to look like a total fool after this game or a big time baller. There is no in between.— Jake Marsh (@PMTsportsbiz) February 15, 2023
He had an okay game (12 points, 12 rebounds), but Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl got the best of him a few times (11 points, 12 rebounds). Dickinson got the better of him with a big block in the final minutes, but you got to think this loss hurts for the big man who couldn’t back up that smack talk with a win.
Rebounding continues to be an issue
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this Michigan team — even with a decent amount of size — struggled to box out and consistently grab offensive rebounds.
Wisconsin is 333th in the country (out of 352 teams) in offensive boards per game with 7.21. Per Robbie Hummel on the ESPN broadcast, the Badgers are 349th in offensive rebounding rate, but they grabbed seven in the first half alone. They outrebounded the Wolverines, 38-37, and grabbed 15 offensive boards, almost twice as many as Michigan.
This has been one of the lingering issues for the Wolverines all season long. Granted, they were down Terrance Williams II, but the fact this continues to be an issue is embarrassing.
Tschetter gets the start
The team announced minutes before the game that Terrance Williams II would be out with a knee bruise, giving Will Tschetter a chance to prove himself in his first career collegiate start.
He had a tough matchup, too, going up against a solid frontcourt in Tyler Wahl and Crowl. He finished with four points, five rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes.
He came out like his usual energetic self in that first half, but struggled at times in the second half. Tschetter got called for three quick fouls (one of which being another questionable charge call) and missed those two free throws late.
As of late Tuesday evening, the Wolverines have one more game on their schedule this week: a rematch at home against Michigan State that’s set to tip-off on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. At this point, it’s unclear whether that game will happen or not; Michigan State’s game against Minnesota, originally set to be played today, was canceled after three students tragically lost their lives in a mass shooting on Michigan State’s campus Monday.
We at Maize n Brew give our heartfelt condolences and support to the Michigan State community during this unspeakable tragedy.