With a loss to Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 of the NIT without Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin, the 2022-23 season for the Michigan Wolverines is officially over. They finished with an 18-16 overall record and an 11-9 record in the Big Ten Conference.
The Wolverines entered the season with high expectations, starting the season ranked 22nd in the AP Poll. Despite some impressive individual performances and a few memorable wins, more than a few fatal flaws hurt the Wolverines all season and cost them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
They almost never rebounded the ball well, their offense got stagnant at times and they never really figured out how to finish close games well. With the Wolverines 2-12 in Quad 1 wins and 4-12 in regular season games that either went to overtime or were decided by five points or less, they didn’t have enough good wins to make a legitimate case for an at-large bid in March Madness.
Let’s recap the 2022-23 for this team.
The Wolverines started the season 3-0 with wins over Purdue Northwest, Eastern Michigan and Pittsburgh, the last of which being one of their best wins because they beat a team that made the NCAA Tournament by 30 points.
In the final of the Legends Classic, they got blown out by Arizona State, a team that snuck into the tournament. They had to sweat out an overtime win over Ohio before handily beating Jackson State and falling to Virginia at home. The Cavaliers were ranked No. 3 at the time, as this was the first of many close losses against quality teams.
After that Virginia loss, the Wolverines traveled to London to take on Kentucky, ranked 19th at the time and ended up with a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament. This was a brutal loss, not only because it was another close one, but also because point guard Jaelin Llewellyn tore his ACL and was out the rest of the season.
The Wolverines came back to the states and beat Minnesota in a game where Dug McDaniel made his first career start and scored 15 points. They also beat Lipscomb nine days later.
The Wolverines closed the month with two losses. They lost another close game to UNC in the Jumpman Invitational before their worst loss of the season — a Quad 4 loss at home to Central Michigan, which finished 10th in MAC. This loss was when the fan base started to turn on the team, which had a players-only meeting after that loss to try to recoup and rally together to turn the season around.
The Wolverines started out the year with one of their most dominant victories, beating the Maryland Terrapins at home by 35 in a game where they held the Terps to a school-record 13 points in the first half.
The Wolverines proceeded to beat Penn State at home before losing to MSU on the road, a game where the Wolverines struggled to score. McDaniel was in the hospital the morning of the game with an illness.
This was the stretch of the year where we didn’t see Michigan play two good games in a row. The Wolverines blew a lead to Iowa and lost to the Hawkeyes on the road. They beat a good Northwestern team at home in a game where Bufkin started to sneak on the radar of NBA scouts and writers.
Then, the Wolverines lost by six to Maryland before beating Minnesota by four. They closed out the month with two losses, No. 1 Purdue by five points and at Penn State by 22.
The Wolverines started off February on a three-game winning streak, earning wins against Northwestern, Ohio State and Nebraska. This was their first time winning three games in a row since starting the season 3-0.
They followed up that winning streak with a one-point loss to No. 18 Indiana in a brutal overtime loss. Michigan didn’t score in the final five minutes of regulation and turned the ball over too many times in overtime.
Michigan had another tough loss after that, this one on the road to Wisconsin. The Wolverines then proceeded to go on another three-game winning streak, beating MSU at home before thrashing Rutgers on the road and at Crisler Center against Wisconsin in overtime partially thanks to Hunter Dickinson’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to force OT.
The Wolverines had a lot of momentum heading into March, and they really had to beat either Illinois or Indiana on the road to close the season. They lost both games in overtime.
They ended the season on a low note, losing in ugly fashion to Rutgers in a game they needed to win to make the tournament. They got a 3-seed in the NIT, beating Toledo in the first round before falling to Vanderbilt this past weekend.
It was a disappointing season, to say the least, and now there are a lot of question marks heading into the offseason, including which guys head to the draft, how the new recruits will fit in and what players will stay or leave via the transfer portal. We’ll be sure to cover it all here at Maize n Brew.