So...close. Just so close.
This was supposed to be a year of rebuilding for Michigan, a year of finding a new identity with a very young team. Picked to finish ninth by their hometown paper after losing two studs in Manny Harris and DeShaun Sims, Michigan had a lot of production to make up on the offensive and no clear leader had yet emerged. John Beilein even dismissed Laval Lucas-Perry before the season began. Cue the explosive highlight reels of Darius Morris and frosh Tim Hardaway Jr. and you can see why the Michigan Wolverines had such a successful "down" year. So now we take a much more calculated look at their unexpected season with a little help from Statsheet.com.
The Michigan Wolverines
Overall Record: 21-14
Conference Record: 9-9
Final Conference Standing: 4th (tied with three others)
Home Record: 14-5
Away Record: 5-5
Neutral Court Record: 2-4
Record vs. Top 25: 0-9
Overtime Record: 1-1
Largest Winning Margin: 31 points vs. USC Upstate
Largest Losing Margin: 19 points vs. Indiana
Best Win: Penn State # 39 end of year RPI
Worst Loss: Indiana # 191 end of year RPI
The Wolverine non-conference schedule was a good mix of gimmes and tough competition. Michigan was able to defeat some mid-level talent in Clemson and Harvard, and even pulled out a win against a tough Oakland team. They took Syracuse and then number one Kansas to two very close decisions. This gave the doubted Wolverines confidence heading into the conference regular season.
B1G (12) conference games were not so forgiving. Michigan won only three games out of the fist ten, and looked like they were dead to rights. John Beilein had his team rolling in the last eight games though. They ended the conference season with a .500 record after a steller effort to finish up the season. Their season was built on winning games they were supposed to win (with the exception of the IU debacle). What really triggered the run to end the regular season, though, was Michigan's upset of Michigan State in the Breslin Center.
Michigan then had a solid game against the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first round of the B1G (12) Conference Tournament to solidify their place in a tournament play-in game. After earning an NCAA bid, the Wolverines took no mercy on a reeling Tennessee Volunteers team and then almost beat defending champion Duke in their last effort.
Team Statistics in Conference Play (Ranking)
Possessions per 40 Minutes: 61.2 (9)
Points per Possession: 1.06 (6)
Rebound Percentage: 44.9 (11)
Assist Percentage: 56.2 (9)
Turnover Percentage: 15.7 (8)
True Shooting Percentage: 56.1 (4)
Points Scored per Game: 64.7 (8)
Points Scored Against per Game: 66.7 (7)
Fouls on Michigan State per Game: 17.4 (4)
Michigan had no real strengths during the conference season. The only real positive was their three point shooting which was third in the conference for attempts, made shots and percentage. These statistics tell the tale of a scrappy team that won games any way they could. They averaged less points per game then points against per game, and the only conference game blow out that they had was against bottom dwelling Iowa.
Their small lineup is exposed here in their lack of rebounding, bring up the rear in the conference with rebounding percentage. Honestly, just looking at these statistics for conference games, I do not know how they won anything after December. The statistics are skewed however, because four of their early losses were blowouts where they were defeated by an average of 18 points (Purdue, Wisconsin, Indiana and Northwestern).
Individual Statistical Leaders in Conference Games
Minutes Played per Game: Zack Novak, 35.6
Points per Game: Tim Hardaway Jr, 14.9
Rebounds per Game: Jordan Morgan, 7.06
Assists per Game: Darius Morris, 6.3
Steals per Game: Tim Hardaway Jr, 1.17
Blocks per Game: Jordan Morgan, 0.72
The Wolverines bright future comes to life in the individual statistics portion of this recap. Two freshmen, Tim Hardaway Jr and Jordan Morgan, led Michigan in several key categories. Tim Hardway Jr was the most impressive player on the team for much of last season. Darius Morris was among the top point guards nationally with 6.7 assists per game, which ranked him fifth in the nation. However, Darius has opted to try his luck in the NBA draft and not return next season.
This leaves many wondering if the Wolverines will be able to build on this years surprising season. Without their team leader and assist phenom will Hardway Jr be able to achieve even greater scoring numbers? John Beilein has a good recruiting class coming to Ann Arbor. The question is will Michigan be able to ride this season's positives into next, and will the Wolverines finally be competing for conference titles again or will they take a step back?
Does Michigan win a conference title without Darius Morris?
Yes (4 votes)
No (9 votes)
13 total votes