Michigan Basketball Desperately Needs A Win Against Michigan State
Losers of two straight, Michigan basketball is running out of time to make a case for itself to make the NCAA tournament. Beating Michigan State is a must.
If the season ended today, what are the chances Michigan basketball would make it into the NCAA tournament field of 68? The short answer: not great.
That’s because the Wolverines have lost their last two games—both of which were perfectly winnable—and they’re slowly but continually sliding to the end of the spectrum that demands a miracle in the conference tournament in order to get in. Let’s not forget that Michigan pretty much did that last year, though.
Also being hammered against the Wolverines is that they haven’t won a true road game yet. They’re 0-6 away from the Crisler Center (not including neutral site games during the 2016 2K Classic).
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If Michigan drops one tonight at home to Michigan State, that would make three straight losses, two of which would’ve come at the hands of the Spartans. That’s not a great look for a team that will presumably (at best) spend the rest of the season on the bubble. We often throw around the term “must-win” at this point in the season, but I don’t think there’s any mistaking Tuesday night’s game as anything but.
Michigan desperately needs to get back on track, and there aren’t too many games left where the Wolverines won’t be a decided underdog.
KenPom projects three more wins for Michigan in the regular season, one of them being tonight against Michigan State. The remaining two are against Rutgers and Nebraska, teams that you’d have to smack around pretty good before you catch anyone’s attention.
The Wolverines’ defense is still last in the Big Ten in efficiency (113.4) and effective field goal percentage (57.3). The Spartans haven’t been the most explosive team in conference games, but they do boast the No. 2 effective field goal percentage (55.4).
When they played a little over a week ago, Michigan State made 19 of 35 shots inside the arc (54.3 percent) and 5 of 11 shots from 3-point range (45.5 percent). That’s an effective field goal percentage of 57.6 percent. That’s right at Michigan’s awful average.
Other contributing factor included Moritz Wagner being in foul trouble for much of the second half and Zak Irvin finishing without any points. D.J. Wilson was limited with 8 points. Take away those three and it’s amazing Michigan was able to lose by only eight.
Those are themes Michigan absolutely has to reverse tonight to get a much needed win. As for the prospects following this game, it’s going to continue to be an uphill battle, but there may not even be much to fight for if the Wolverines lose this one.