The No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (25-4) looked to complete the regular season sweep of the Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-14) on Thursday, which they did after falling to the Spartans on Saturday. After getting back on track after losing to instate rival Michigan State, the Wolverines are now out of easy games as every game from here on out holds huge importance. Here are some takeaways from Michigan’s 82-53 victory over Nebraska last night.
When it Rains, it Pours
In a shocking turn of events Michigan had an extremely good offensive game. This season it seems like the Wolverines either shoot 25% or 60% from the field, and nothing in between. This game there were some very good signs on the offensive end with Ignas Brazdeikis remembering how to score, and Teske picking up on his midseason form and actually making some jump shots.
Yes, I know the opponent was the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers, but Michigan has played miserably against these poor, unranked teams with three out of Michigan’s four losses coming against the power houses known as Penn State, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Jon Teske scored twenty-two points and grabbed ten rebounds. Most important about those twenty-two was his nine that came from three three-pointers. If Teske is able to effectively spread the floor against Michigan State and Maryland, Nick Ward and Bruno Fernando’s rim-protector abilities will be neutralized and will allow for Michigan’s wings to drive to the rim.
More importantly for the Wolverines is the huge game for Iggy Brazdeikis. Brazdeikis played thirty-one minutes and scored twenty points. He shot 7-13 from the field and was 2-5 from the free-throw line. Iggy hitting four of his five three-pointers was the X factor and those twelve points is what the Wolverines will need for another deep run in March, and hopefully into April.
Charles Matthews Injury
Against the Spartans, the Kentucky-transfer guard was non-existent. This was due to his poor shooting and an ankle sprain he suffered in the second half against MSU. Coach Beilein decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of worsening the ankle injury, so he had Charles sit out on senior night to get healthy for back-to-back ranked opponent road clashes vs. Maryland and Michigan State.
Charles’ absence turned out to be not an issue as sixth man Isaiah Livers slipped right into the lineup, and forward Colin Castelton got the bump into the rotation. It seems every season that John Beilein finds a player on the bench that becomes an essential role player down the stretch and by the way Castelton played yesterday, it could be him.
In Castelton’s limited nine minutes, he scored eleven points and committed no fouls. Along with his efficient 5-7 shooting from the field, he grabbed three rebounds, two of which were big offensive rebounds. Eli Brooks and David DeJulius each had more minutes as the double-digit lead all game allowed the Wolverines to go deep down the bench. If the Wolverines can now have a nine-man rotation, I’d feel a lot better about Michigan’s tournament runs.
Defending the Cornhuskers’ Star
One of the best things that Michigan and Coach Beilein can get out of their players is production if their shots aren’t coming or falling. This held true with Zavier Simpson’s game against Nebraska.
Simpson shot only two times, making both attempts and finishing with four points. What was harder to see but was great production was his six rebounds and ten assists to fuel the Wolverines near thirty-point victory. But that wasn’t all for the man running the point.
Nebraska’s best player, senior guard James Palmer Jr., is their leading scorer at 18.5 ppg this season. If ESPN didn’t tell you every three minutes, he was being absolutely smothered by Zavier Simpson and scored his first basket, a three-pointer, with 8:59 left in the game at which point Michigan was up 20. Not only was Simpson on him, 5-star recruit and Detroit native, David DeJulius got in on the action aswell. Palmer Jr. finished with seven points which was his season-low. Good work Michigan defense, now copy and paste that onto Cassius Winston vs the Spartans and the Wolverines will have a great shot at revenge.
On Sunday March 3, Michigan will travel to Maryland (21-8) to take on the Terrapins, and Nebraska will travel to take on the Michigan State Spartans (15-14) this Tuesday.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Michigan Basketball article is published, fill out our email notification form.