A disappointing season for the Michigan men’s basketball team ended in the most disappointing way possible.
The Wolverines only made four of their 21 second half shots, including just one in the first 19 minutes of the second half. That offensive drought and a second-half surge by the Scarlet Knights led to an easy victory for the Scarlet Knights, 62-50.
This was a game the Wolverines needed to win for their NCAA Tournament hopes, and they got clobbered on both ends in the second half. It got to the point where they visibly gave up, and it seemed like Hunter Dickinson and Kobe Bufkin were the only Wolverines playing with any sense of urgency.
Here are some takeaways from the painful loss.
Second-half runs kills the Wolverines
Both these teams struggled offensively in the first half, and to open the second half, Rutgers played with a passion that Michigan never matched.
The Scarlet Knights opened the half on a 9-1 run, and it didn’t get much better from there.
Michigan never took the lead again after that initial burst. It was cut to 40-39 when Derek Simpson went to the line. He made his first free throw and missed the second, but scored a layup off that miss because...no one boxed him out. It looks like Jett Howard was supposed to box him out, and he just didn’t.
Mickey Mouse operation pic.twitter.com/u2rwBVlsso— Chris Castellani (@Castellani2014) March 9, 2023
That’s an inexcusable miscommunication by the Wolverines. Every middle schooler is taught to talk to their teammates on free throws to determine who is supposed to box out the shooter. When that doesn’t happen, wide open layups like that happen.
After this basket, Rutgers outscored the Wolverines, 19-7. Rutgers went on a 18-3 run that started with Simpson stepping to the line at 10:45 and ended with a Dickinson three with 1:04 left. Michigan went nearly 14 game minutes (15:02 to 1:04) without a field goal.
That is a pathetic display of offense, and Rutgers capitalized. The Scarlet Knights knocked down their threes in the second half, they scored 13 points off fast breaks and simply wanted it more than the Wolverines.
Dickinson is dominant
Michigan’s offense has been inconsistent all year long, but it got constant contributions in today’s game thanks to Dickinson.
He finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. He was absolutely dominant in the post and he ended the season on a tear, averaging 25.5 points per game in the last four games.
Michigan’s season was on the line; props to the big man for being the sole source of consistent offense in this one.
The rest of the team could not buy a bucket
As dominant as Dickinson was, it didn’t really matter with how the rest of the team played. Wolverines not named Dickinson combined to score only 26 points off 8-of-29 shooting (27.6%). You can’t win games only getting contributions from one guy. I’ll commend Bufkin; he never stopped playing hard defensively and a few of his shots were halfway down before rimming out.
The rest of the team looked like they didn’t want to be there. Jett Howard largely had a forgettable day aside from two three-pointers. Dug McDaniel only scored two points and looked like an overwhelmed freshman point guard. Michigan never really figured out the 4 all year, with Will Tschetter, Terrance Williams II and Tarris Reed Jr. not doing a whole lot in this one. Joey Baker was billed as a shooter heading into this year, but he could never consistently knock down shots, this game included.
The Wolverines have legitimate star power with an All-Big Ten center and two projected first round picks. One of their biggest issues all year was the rest of the supporting cast wasn’t offering much support, aside from a few standout performances from McDaniel and Reed Jr.
Michigan needs to take care of the little things
Great teams take care of the ball and rebound well, and Michigan did neither of those things today.
The Wolverines have done a decent job taking care of the ball most of the season, but they turned the ball over 14 times against Rutgers, including seven in the first half. Those first half turnovers lead to seven points for the Scarlet Knights, with a few of those turnovers coming during the 8-0 run that helped them take the lead late in the first half. They ultimately scored 18 points off Michigan turnovers.
The Scarlet Knights are painful to watch offensively, but Michigan allowed them score 10 second-chance points, with the Wolverines giving up 10 offensive rebounds. That’s an effort problem, and Michigan hasn’t seemed to care about boxing out all year long.
Way too many times, we’ve seen the Wolverines struggle on the glass. Not being able to rebound or take care of the ball cost them in this one.
Now we wait for Selection Sunday, and when looking at Michigan’s at-large resume, it’s not great. We’ll go more in-depth on Michigan’s tournament resume on Maize n Brew this weekend but for now, let us know in the comments how you feel about Michigan’s March Madness chances.