We’ve seen this game from the Michigan men’s basketball team about a dozen times this season. The Wolverines surrendered a lead after playing well in the second half and ultimately lost because they couldn’t execute in the final few possessions. I could copy and paste that last sentence and it would fit for half of my takeaways columns this year.
With Michigan losing to Illinois earlier this week, this was a must-win game for the Wolverines. They are on the outside looking in when it comes to March Madness, so they’ll take every opportunity to earn a Quad 1 win they can get, especially one on the road against a good Indiana team.
With a win, Indiana secures a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament. Based on Michigan’s 3-11 record in Quad 1 games and a weekend where some of the key bubble games didn’t go in their favor, the Wolverines probably have to win the Big Ten tournament to punch their ticket in March Madness. Their at-large resume simply isn’t good enough.
Here are some takeaways from the loss.
The Wolverines blew the lead...again. And turned over the ball too much.
With 4:32 left in the first half, Indiana was up 27-13. The Wolverines then outscored the Hoosiers, 29-7 over the next seven game minutes, flipping the game entirely.
The Wolverines were up 54-42 with 12:26 left, and they were playing well coming out of the break. After a crappy start, they were moving the ball towards the end of the first half and into the second half, and it actually seemed like they could pull off the upset.
Look at the @umichbball ball movement in transition. pic.twitter.com/dEcZVibElB— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 5, 2023
But we’ve seen this movie before. In the final 12:26, Michigan got outscored 27-13 in regulation, as Indiana tied the game at 69 and the game went into overtime, the third OT game in a row for the Wolverines.
In overtime, Indiana only scored six points, but it was enough to win. After Juwan Howard used his only OT timeout to draw up a play to get Dickinson a post touch off a screen, the big man turned the ball over with 14 seconds left in OT. His only two turnovers of the game were brutal, as he also got the ball taken away with 29 seconds left in regulation with the game tied at 69.
I get why Dickinson got the ball late in regulation and late in overtime; he had a solid game (24 points and 14 boards) and the Wolverines couldn’t get much going outside of him. But Indiana knew exactly what Michigan was doing in the final possessions and was ready for it. Got to be less predictable with the game on the line.
Because of some misses at the free throw line by IU’s Race Thompson, the Wolverines got the ball back with 4.1 seconds left in OT, but Bufkin’s pass bounced off Dickinson’s back before the Hoosiers scooped it up.
Turnovers are often the difference in close games like this. The Wolverines have done a decent job taking care of the ball all season, but having five more turnovers than the Hoosiers (13-8) was a big reason they lost.
Not an ideal start offensively
Michigan has had an issue with slow starts most of the season, but the opening to this game was especially bad.
Michigan missed 12 of their first 16 shots and seven of their first eight threes, ultimately leading to the Hoosiers being ahead by as much as 14 with 4:32 left. They couldn’t get into any sort of a rhythm, and it didn’t help that the Wolverines had seven turnovers in the first 20 minutes of game time.
The offense was absolutely lethargic, and U-M was letting IU do whatever they wanted in the paint, with the Hoosiers scoring 20 of their 29 first half points there (compared to just 12 first half paint points for the Wolverines). Judging by body language on both ends, it seemed like Michigan didn’t even want to be there to start this one.
A 10-0 run to close the half made it a two-point game at the half, largely thanks to Hunter Dickinson (12 points, 5 boards in the first half) asserting his dominance. He scored or assisted on all four baskets on that run.
Had it not been for that run, this one could have gotten real ugly because of that start.
The regular season is over for the Wolverines. They’ve let a lot of quality wins slip through their fingers, but they can earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament if they win the Big Ten Tournament.
That tournament starts next week, and Michigan’s first game will be against either Rutgers or the winner of Wisconsin-Ohio State (pending the outcome of Northwestern-Rutgers Sunday night). That game is set to tip-off sometime early Thursday afternoon. We’ll have coverage of Michigan’s tournament game(s) all week long at Maize n Brew.