Michigan basketball vs Close Games: The War Rages On

Juwan Howard Speaks to the Media after 90-80 win over Toledo in 2023 NIT
Juwan Howard Speaks to the Media after 90-80 win over Toledo in 2023 NIT / Aaron J. Thornton/GettyImages

Michigan basketball and Florida, two name-brand teams locked in a battle in Charlotte, North Carolina. With just under two minutes remaining, I turn from my La-Z-Boy recliner and look at my wife and say "Michigan is gonna lose." At this point in the game, Michigan only trailed by one.

This is a movie that Wolverine fans have seen time and time again, throughout the tenure of head coach Juwan Howard. A movie they've seen thirty-three times to be exact. Since Juwan Howard took the Michigan Basketball program over in the 2019-2020 season, the Wolverines have lost thirty-three games decided by six points or less.

There have been an abundance of issues during the Howard era of Michigan basketball, but, this is the most important (non-physical) issue. It has to be corrected, if the Wolverines ever plan to get back to the level of a consistent sweet sixteen program, Michigan has got to be able to close games in crunch time.

Michigan, at times, gets caught trying to play one one-on-one, and this isn't new, I can vividly see multiple plays in my head that end in a pull-up 3-pointer that was missed as time expires, that with some movement and cutting, Michigan likely wins the game. Examples of this include taking three different 3-pointers at the end of the UCLA game, all of which didn't go in. Another example is last season's game against Virginia, a game in which the Wolverines controlled the majority of the entire game. I could go on and on forever with examples, but, I'll spare everyone the time.

The biggest thing that Coach Howard and his staff have to understand is that this is an easy fix, but, it will take time. It won't be changed overnight. Instead of falling into one on one matchups, just move, run an offense.

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Michigan basketball has all of the talent needed to be successful, but, in a Big Ten Conference, which will see every game being a knockdown drag-out, the Wolverines will have to be able to close out games in the clutch. Their season and quite possibly Juwan Howard's job depends on it.