Wisconsin’s Kohl Center has not been kind to the Michigan Wolverines in recent history. So, coming off of a road loss at Northwestern and having only three true road wins this season, Michigan was going to need to play good basketball, despite the Badgers’ struggles this season. Unlike many of their most recent games, the Wolverines were able to get out to a fast start and finally find their offense that had been stagnant for the better part of the last month. Michigan took down Wisconsin on the road for only the second time in fifteen games by a final score of 83-72. The win moves them to 9-5 in the Big Ten and 20-7 overall.
Three point offense
For much of Coach John Beilein’s tenure at Michigan, the Wolverines have been known as a three point shooting team. Over the last few weeks, Michigan has struggled to consistently score from behind the arc. Today, Michigan made up for their shooting slump by connecting on 9 of their 20 attempts. Duncan Robinson shook off his own personal slump, connecting on four three point baskets in the first half to help stake Michigan to a significant lead. Moe Wagner would also finish with multiple three point baskets, connecting on three of his six attempts.
Wagner v Happ
Speaking of Wagner, the Michigan forward had another strong game, recording a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Wagner had the unenviable task of trying to guard Wisconsin’s best player: Ethan Happ. Although Happ would finish with 29 points, Wagner played as well as he could have against the Badgers’ skilled big man. The rest of Michigan’s squad was able to limit the damage from the rest of Happ’s teammates. Joining Wagner in double digits was Duncan Robinson with 16 points, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with 15, and Charles Matthews with 11. This well balanced attack is what Michigan needs as their postseason play begins in a little over two weeks from now.
Free throw woes
Struggling at the line for this season, making 64.4% of their free throws, Wisconsin tried to exploit this weakness with just over three minutes remaining. Sending Zavier Simpson to the line multiple times, they tried to get back into the game by trading buckets for missed free throws. Simpson would miss the front end of both of his one-and-one attempts before being removed from the game, but the rest of the Wolverines kept the Badgers from using fouls against them. Michigan would make 18 of their 24 attempts today, including a 7-8 performance from Abdur-Rahkman to help ice away the game. In order to close out games going forward, Michigan will need to perform in a similar fashion at the line as they did today.
Sitting in fifth place in the Big Ten standings at the moment, it would be great if the Wolverines could move up to fourth and receive the double bye. Unfortunately, Nebraska sits a game ahead of them and has the head-to-head win over the Wolverines as well. If Michigan hopes to pass the Cornhuskers, they may just need to win out. And that may not be enough seeing as Nebraska’s schedule is much easier. On the plus side, with just two weeks left in the Big Ten regular season, Michigan has to be feeling good about their chances to make the NCAA tournament. Up next for the Wolverines is a home matchup with Iowa on Wednesday at 6:30.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Michigan Basketball article is published, fill out our email notification form