Mar 16, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Ohio Bobcats fans celebrate as the Bobcats defeat the Michigan Wolverines during the second half in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men

GBMWolverine: Michigan Basketball -- Ohio University vs. Michigan -- Paradise Lost -- Michigan Loses to Ohio University


Posted at 7:00pm — 3/17/2012

GBMWolverine: Michigan Basketball — Ohio University vs. Michigan — Paradise Lost — Michigan Loses to Ohio University

A game plan for the success of both teams, Ohio and Michigan, was laid out in the game preview a few days ago. One team, Ohio, crossed off the keys to the game and did what was necessary to win. The other team, Michigan was visited by the gremlins and continued shortcomings of the 2011-2012 season and bit hard, hard enough for a tough loss. Congratulations to the Bobcats and this site hopes the Athenians do some damage in the next round.

Anyone hunting for sugar coating can stop here and go on to another venture.

It may be argued whether the game was decided by what Ohio did right, or what Michigan did wrong. It is clear that Ohio planned very well for this game. The team executed its offensive intent better than Michigan, and as a bonus played with much more toughness and position on defense.

John Groce is a very good coach with a big time pedigree. This run may propel him on to a much higher destination. He clearly saw Michigan’s weaknesses and the players for the most part exploited said liabilities.

Mar 16, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Ohio Bobcats head coach John Groce instructs his team in a game against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men

One of the GBMWolverine’s keys to the game was which team could play the best perimeter defense. The outcome was clear and not even close. Obviously Ohio University planned to pressure the perimeter and take away Michigan’s primary weapon, knowing full well the Wolverines would not throw the ball inside often to an isolation situation in the paint. Michigan obliged and not until the second half did Michigan make getting to the hoop a priority. On the other hand, Michigan again was lazy, chasing the ball, or not moving to guard the perimeter shooters of Ohio. Ball movement, poor switching (if any) jumping on fakes, and not guarding close enabled Ohio to hit easy looks. In the second half Michigan tightened up enough to label the perimeter defense as average. So, the inability or refusal to play tight outside and Michigan’s inability or refusal to get the ball inside set the tone early for this mild upset.

Another key to the game was Ohio using better athletes inside to post up Smotzy, Hardaway, and Novak. In the first half Ohio was very successful with this strategy, and again in the second half Michigan played better, but not sufficient to pull off the victory.

A third key was the Burke/Cooper match-up. On the surface it might appear that Cooper won the match-up hands-down. But slow down a little on that hypothesis. Burke gave up his offense in the first half for the benefit of his teammates as Ohio did a nice job of forcing Michigan into other options. Cooper was allowed by Michigan to pretty much play his game. In the second half, Burke took over to a much greater degree and the results were better. So, it is fair to say Cooper did achieve a slight victory. Make no mistake; any viewer saw two of the best point guards in the nation.

Mar 16, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) shoots against the Ohio Bobcats guard Walter Offutt (3) during the first half in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men

A fourth key became obvious early: could Michigan stop the high pick dribble-drive guard roll to the basket that has been a killer ever since Purdue. The answer was no and every team with a fast point guard will continue to exploit Michigan until this team makes defense an actual priority. Understand this: a point guard cannot defend this option, there must be help in stopping the guard short, drawing charges, forcing the guard to the side, or blocking a shot. Michigan has miles to go to become a better defensive team, and fans can only hope the better athletes coming in next year can help out.

Linked to the defense issues is the lack of toughness Michigan has exhibited in the recent past. To advance in this tournament teams need to be mentally tough and physically tough. Michigan’s players were backed down several times tonight and this was no surprise. Just going into cruise control and banking on a late comeback works only sometimes.

Michigan works long and hard on shooting threes, but it might be a nice idea to make some lay-ups. Review the tape and any viewer can count about eight layups missed by the Wolverines. This does not count the times Burke got stuffed going to the rim, caused by good help defense, or the two straight times Michigan threw away layups on bad passes during fast breaks.

Ohio knew what it wanted to do all night and did what was needed. Michigan was always reactive and never quite figured out what its ultimately effective plan was; mostly the result was random.

We did promise a close and entertaining game and that did indeed happen. The coaches have to be disappointed in the results, Michigan it seemed simply played its game and Ohio adjusted to what was needed for a win. And that is the end of that story and the season.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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