The hope is that Tuesday was rock bottom for the Michigan Wolverines after getting absolutely manhandled by Purdue. While this season started off with last year’s trend of close losses continuing to frustrate, that has given way to good old-fashioned blowouts. More defeats are sure to come, but hopefully there will be at least a little dignity.
To get us through the final 12 regular season games, I will be calling upon “The Office” for post titles. Leading off is Season 3’s Grief Counseling, which feels appropriate after back-to-back blowouts. There is no funeral for a bird here, but it is a safe space to grieve this lost season — and perhaps long for the John Beilein era, which feels like a distant memory.
For Juwan Howard to save his job, he will need at least a couple more wins, and Saturday offers one of the best chances for one down the stretch. Michigan’s road win over the Iowa Hawkeyes before Christmas is one of the team’s two Quad I victories (not that Tournament resumes are relevant anymore), and the Wolverines have a decent chance for the sweep at home.
Iowa Hawkeyes (11-8, 3-5) at Michigan Wolverines (7-12, 2-6)
Date & Time: Saturday, Jan. 27, 5 p.m. ET
Location: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI
While Michigan is just 2-7 since that win in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes are actually 6-3, with results going just about as expected in conference play. Metrics think this offense is about league-average against Big Ten opponents, while the defense continues to lag behind, especially in the paint. In its entirety, the offense does rank top-25 nationally though, and the Wolverines continue to move in the wrong direction defensively.
The win in December was fueled by efficient offense, as Michigan hit 55.6 percent of its twos. This will be the theme again, and Tarris Reed needs to have a good game on both ends. There is no Zach Edey on this Iowa roster, and while the Hawkeyes might score more than their 1.07 PPP in the first matchup, the Wolverines should be able to keep feeding their bigs down low.
“His capa is detated from his head”
Saturday is a home game, which means Dug McDaniel will be back in action. Jaelin Llewellyn did his best against Purdue, hitting 3-of-6 threes and leading the team with 16 points, but it definitely is better when McDaniel is available to run the offense, both in the current season and when it comes to building for the future.
The bigger issue, though, is Michigan has no star. McDaniel is the de facto centerpiece, in no small part due to his position, but compared to rosters of recent seasons, there is just a huge black hole crying out for someone to step forward. Unfortunately, there is not really a solve for that at this point; the transfers did not quite live up to the hype, and McDaniel is out half of the time. This program has been run over by an 18-wheeler.