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2016-2017 Michigan Basketball - White Collar Dimes

Discussion in 'College Sports' started by Zososoxfan, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

    Yes, I made a thread a week before March Madness and yes, I made it because I love my thread title. I look forward to Yammer's stellar critiques.

    U-M BBall has been a tale of 2 (3?!?) seasons. In Part I, U-M got off to a solid start with 4 straight wins culminating in a nice W over SMU before losing away to a solid S. Carolina team. U-M beat another couple of small schools then lost to another solid team in VA Tech and got trounced by UCLA (although IIRC they played them close in the first half). Going into the conference season the team was 10-3 and about where I expected.

    In Part II, U-M got pushed around and beat up by the B1G going 1-3 thru their first 4 games. After the 1/11 game vs. Illinois, Maverick Morgan called the team soft and more of a white collar program traditionally and this year included. Well that pissed off Derrick Walton something awful and he has since gone on a rampage setting the tone for the team and getting everyone into roles they were better suited for all along. It took a few games for everyone to adjust (more on this below) to what was going on, and the team was 4-6 in conference play (14-9 overall) following a loss at home to a shit OSU team on 2/4.

    Part III is where we're currently at. U-M has won 7 of 9 and one loss was due in part to some incredibly shoddy refereeing by TV Teddy Valentine @Minny. The other loss was to a desperate and reeling, but quality NW team. In that time, U-M has beaten conference champions Purdue twice and a solid Wisco team at home. They have trounced every other mediocre and bad team (Rutgers was a trap game where they let down their guard at the end).

    The turnaround all starts with Senior PG Derrick Walton. Walton came to U-M as a highly-touted recruit who never did quite live up to his potential. I personally never saw the big deal with him and the program had struggled relative to expectations with him, Zach Irvin (Mr. Basketball in Indiana out of HS), and an oft-injured Caris Levert during the preceding 2-3 years. But after Maverick's comments (which to be fair was an accurate criticism at the time), Walton has taken over first banana status on the team and played like a man possessed. This leadership has led to better balance on offense as U-M is now able to penetrate more and get defenses to collapse on them. As usual for a Beilein squad, U-M is deadly from 3. Lately, U-M's offense usually features 5 players who all have at least decent inside-out game (Duncan Robinson as the 6th man also fits this description). Moritz Wagner and DJ Wilson are both stretch 4-5s that have solid moves in the post. Muhammad-Ali Abur-Rahkman (MAAR or Rahk) is probably the second-best penetrator off the dribble, and surprisingly Irvin's outside shot has been the most inconsistent aspect of the offense during the past few weeks (although he had an excellent game yesterday against Illinois). Freshman Xavier Simpson has been allowed to grow into his role and he is now a dependable PG off the bench to penetrate and dish (and spell Walton minutes). The team is pretty thin though and most minutes given to backup big Mark Donnal are fraught. So, it's a 7.5 man rotation.

    Billy Donlon was brought on to shore up the defense this year (a consistent weakness of Beilein teams historically) and while it has taken some time, Michigan's D is now respectable and complements the offense well. They are defending the 3 much tougher and are more willing to give up shots inside although the guards and wings are good help defenders. In essence, Michigan's offense is so effective and efficient that they're willing to concede 2s since they will rack up a better efficiency over the course of the game. U-M is adept at switching too. While it has been less exaggerated than in years past, this team still has Beilein's stamp on it which means few turnovers and low fouling numbers.

    During the low-point of the season, there were legitimate calls for Beilein's head. Walton's surge to best PG in the conference and the resulting maturation by the rest of the team and improved defense have this team peaking at the right time. They'll play the winner of Minnesota and MSU tomorrow for a chance at the BTT Championship. As it currently stands, this team is likely a low 7 or high 8 seed. Win tomorrow and I think they're solidly on the 7-line. Win the BTT and I think the committee would have to consider moving them up to a 6.
  2. LogansDad

    LogansDad Member SoSH Member

    Looks like you were spot on with the 7 seed projection. Louisville in Round 2 if they make it that far should be fun.
  3. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

    The B1G seeding in the tourney is a mess (don't know other conferences as well). U-M earned a 6 and instead got a tough 7-seed versus a good OKST team that was also very underseeded. But honestly, whatever. It's great that they're in the tournament and that they get to hang a banner for the BTT. I'd love to get some retribution against Pitino and Louisville, but I don't see this team getting past them AND Kansas. But, this team is as hot as ever right now and I certainly wouldn't count them out against anyone other than very elite teams.
  4. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

    This thread deserves a bump after knocking off OKST and Louisville. The OKST game was wild and while UM couldn't defend OKST, they shot the ball extremely well from 3 and outgunned the gunners. Against Louisville, Wagner absolutely just went off going 11/14 from the field. DJ Wilson was also an efficient 6/13 and iced the game with 4 consecutive free throws. Walton had a rough shooting night (3/13) but he did lead the team emotionally and had 6 assists. Irvin was very efficient (5/9) too and played excellent D. I don't know much about Oregon, but I think UM can beat them without their star C. Kansas is another story, but they were in 2013 too, so why not?
  5. Dick Pole Upside

    Dick Pole Upside Member SoSH Member

    I think the Wolverines have one more upset in them. Tough to see them beating KU.

    On a related note, commit Isaiah Livers was named Mr. Basketball for Michigan.

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