January 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines fans hold up foam number one fingers during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan -- Wrap-Up -- Big Ten March Shifts Into Brutal Overdrive

Posted at 6:15am — 1/31/2013

Michigan Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan — Wrap-Up — Big Ten March Shifts Into Brutal Overdrive

At times Michigan did not play good defense, but it did not matter, as another opponent starting missing shots in the second half of a game that went in earlier. Michigan got beat at times on backdoor cuts and gave up plenty of points on simple head fakes that the Michigan defenders fell for instead of holding position. Northwestern gathered a large number of offensive rebounds.

Jan 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein reacts in the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Crisler Center. Michigan won 68-46. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, the Michigan offense again functioned well enough to overcome the above deficiencies in winning 68-46. The win clinched another 20-win season for Coach Beilein.

Michigan played pretty well to open the game on offense. Good passing using patience and the clock resulted in good shots. Northwestern starting turning the ball over and Michigan was off to the races for some easy scores that put the Wolverines out ahead.

Hardaway Junior struggled early and his attempts to get into the offense game flow proved counterproductive. Eventually Trey Burke just took it upon himself to get to the hoop in the second half and cancel out some of the offensive play that saw little use of the play clock and long three pointers.

Michigan made good on coach Beilein’s comments about working on getting the ball inside. Jon Horford worked hard for position, worked to back the ball inside and scored enough to contribute.

Everything else pretty much went according to script and there is little need to over-analyze what happened.

January 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas (11) dunks the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats in the second half at Crisler Center. Michigan won 68-46. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan starts a brutal four game swing that may determine if the Wolverines have a chance at the league title. It would seem as if some enemy of Michigan made a ghoulish stretch to inflict damage. Three of the games are on the road and one, Ohio State, is at home.

The mental toughness discussed many times here will be sorely tested. Indiana is very good and will go after Michigan’s soft inside defense. If Michigan collapses the ball will be kicked out to the guards to shoot threes. The Hoosiers can beat teams bad on the boards, and Michigan, since Morgan’s injury has given up bunches of offensive rebounds. Frankly it will take a great effort to hang with Indiana. If Morgan cannot play that is one less inside player and several rebounds off the ledger.

The only good news with the schedule is Michigan gets some relief going down the stretch. But if the Wolverines do not go at least 2-2 in the next four games, there may be no catch-up.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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Tags: Basketball Big Ten Conference Coach John Beilein Football Go Blue Indiana Hoosiers Northwestern Wildcats

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