The #2 ranked Michigan Basketball team came into their showdown with the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus this past Sunday looking to stay undefeated and become the top-ranked team in the country after a Duke loss the previous day. The Wolverines took an early 3-0 lead on a Trey Burke jumper from outside, but Ohio State came roaring out of the gate after that, eventually going up by 21 points in the first half. They allowed the Buckeyes to have too many open looks on offense and Aaron Craft gave Burke fits all day, which definitely took its toll on the rest of the team in the first half. A late first half surge by the Wolverines caused them to get the score within 12 at 34-22.
The Wolverines came out of the locker room on fire, playing a much improved defense and getting their three point shots to fall. Freshman standout Glenn Robinson III tied the game at 46 all with fewer than 6 minutes to go in the game. The team seemed to hit a wall after that, as again they went cold from beyond the arc. Trey Burke missed a three that went in and out that would have given Michigan the lead with fourteen seconds left, and the Buckeyes ultimately won 56-53, handing Michigan their first loss of the season at 16-1. Burke finished as the Wolverine’s leading scorer with 15pts.
Falling to #5 in the rankings, The Wolverines took their talents north to the Barn to face ninth-ranked Minnesota, who was coming off of a hard fought loss at Indiana. It was a raucous atmosphere early, but Michigan was able to take a 36-30 lead going into the half led by Tim Hardaway Jr’s 17pts.
The second half was all-Michigan, as they roared out to a 19 point lead at the 13:41 mark. They eventually would win 83-75 in impressive fashion. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke continued their domination of the Gophers (after combining to score 52 points in last year’s Big Ten Tournament) finishing with 21 and 18 points, respectively, pushing their record to 17-1.
The Wolverines’ next game is against Purdue (10-8, 3-2 in B1G) at home on Jan 24, followed by a trip down to Champaign, Illinois to take on the #23 Fighting Illini on Jan. 27.
• The Good: When Michigan plays its best basketball, they are as good, if not the best team in the country. Trey Burke continues to take the nation by storm and Hardaway has played nicely this year. What I was most impressed with this week was the play of Mitch McGary in the Minnesota game. The way he impacts a game does not always show up in the box score, but he is a post presence that the Wolverines have not had in a long time. I’m a big fan of effort players like that, and Big Blue appears to have those guys this year.
• The Bad: The Wolverines have lost only one game this year, so there is not a whole lot of things to complain about, but in these past two games what has been somewhat of a concern to me is their perimeter defense. It dug them a huge hole against the Buckeyes and it allowed Minnesota to make that game closer than it should have been in the end. Two games is not a very big sample size, but it is something worth watching as the B1G season rolls on.
Look for Michigan to move up a few spots in the rankings this week after Indiana and Louisville losses this week. They could jump to as high as #2, but #3 looks likely for now.
This week we’ll take a look at the top commit to the 2013 class, Derrick Walton. According to Scout.com, Walton is the 7th ranked PG in the country out of Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods. At 6 ft, 175lbs, he is a bit small, but he is a very good quarterback of the offense and is a very smart player. Defensively he needs to improve, but that will come with time. Trey Burke is likely to leave for the NBA after this season, so Walton will have a shot to play right away. Oddly enough, coming out of high school, he is a similar prospect to what Burke was. Derrick Walton and Glenn Robinson III should combine to be one of the best backcourts in the Big Ten once they get a chance to play together.