Sunday, January 4, 2009

Huge Weekend for Michigan

#23 Michigan 74 Illinois 64

Let's start with the huge 74-64 win for #23 (for a few more hours until the new poll comes out) Michigan (11-3, 1-1) over Illinois (13-2, 1-1) on Sunday. It was a game that Laval Lucas-Perry said Michigan "needed to win" and they did just that to get to .500 in Big Ten Conference play. If Michigan wants to go dancing, they need to beat tough teams like the Illini on their home court. Illinois came in receiving votes in the polls and with a RPI of #18. With the way they've looked all season, I'd expect them to be around the top 25 at the end of the year.

Michigan trailed by one at the half but battled back and eventually pulled away in the final minutes to earn the ten point win. After playing man-to-man for most of the game against Wisconsin, the Wolverines spent much of the Illinois game in their 1-3-1 zone. While Illinois only turned the ball over eight times, the zone was effective in hiding Michigan's lack of size down low. There were still a few times where Beilein had four guards in the game and Bruce Weber exploited that size advantage for a few easy buckets by his big men but I like Michigan much better defensively in that 1-3-1.

Michigan used a balanced scoring attack as Harris lead the way with 16 but Sims, Perry, Novak, and Gibson also reached double figures. Novak earned his second start of the season and played well in the first half, scoring all of his 11 points on 5-6 shooting, 4-5 from beyond the arc. For those keeping track at home, that makes Novak 8-11 from beyond the arc (or 72.7% if you prefer percentages to fractions as I do) in the two games he's started - I'm disregarding the desperation three that he shot at the end of the Wisconsin game. Novak was neutralized for much of the second half by an Alex Legion elbow that left a trail of blood from the far basket all the way to the tunnel and required six stitches above Novak's left eye (see picture above).

Zach Gibson played above the rim, showing signs of athleticism that caught everybody, including Gibson, off guard. I know Gibson wasn't expecting himself to dunk because he couldn't stick the landing on his first slam, falling straight on his tailbone. Gibson jokes aside, he had a monster game for Michigan with the fast break dunk, a huge block on a Brock layup, a three pointer, then beating Tisdale off the dribble for his second dunk. His three pointer gave Michigan a lead that they would not surrender. The win improved Michigan's RPI 13 slots to #39 while dropping Illinois just one spot to #19. Michigan will next be in action on Wednesday night at 6:30 at Indiana with the game televised on the Big Ten Network. Now, moving on to recruiting...

Michael Chandler Commits to Michigan...and Lousiville?
After the Michigan win over Illinois, they won a verbal commitment from Michael Chandler, a 4-star, #4 ranked 6'10" Center in the 2011 class. This commitment seemed to come out of nowhere so I decided to do a little digging to find out about this Michael Chandler. ESPN's Scouts Inc. grade him at a 96 and said this about him:

If you want to see him play, you better get to the JV game at Lawrence North High School. He runs the floor extremely well, he is active on both ends of the floor and he rebounds very well. He is very coordinated for a kid his size and his age. He oozes with potential and is certain to attract a lot of attention as he gets older and continues to develop as a player.

Did scouts inc really send someone to watch this kid's JV game???

Chandler apparently has offers from Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, among several others. The strange thing? Of the three recruiting sites I checked out (Rivals, Scout, and ESPN) Scout was the only one that even listed Michigan as a possible interest!

Better yet, tonight Rivals posted their own article saying that Chandler committed to Lousiville today! Scouts and Rivals need to get together and figure out whats going on, or better yet, they need to stop covering high school sophomores in their JV games. Who's willing to put any amount of money that this kid actually puts on a maize and blue jersey in three years?

William Campbell Commits to Michigan...Again
During the third quarter of the Army All-American Game, Cass Tech's 5-star Defensive Tackle Will Campbell announced his commitment to the Wolverines (wait, hadn't he already done this...?) Campbell who seemed to be enjoying the recruitment process way too much faked for the LSU hat before donning the block M. Earlier in the week, Campbell had told the media that Michigan as no longer under much for that, I guess. Campbell is the only 5-star in Rich Rod's 2009 class and plays a position where Michigan will be extremely thin next year as the entire Defensive line minus Brandon Graham (if he stays) graduates.

We'll leave you with some WCBN percentages after the weekend's events. Feel free to argue them in the comments section :
  • Chance Michigan hoops makes the NCAA tournament: 75%
  • Chance Zach Gibson ever has two dunks in a game again: 10%
  • Chance Alex Legion's mom hears another prophecy from God about her son's basketball career and Legion transfers to University of Detroit Mercy: 17%
  • Chance Will Campbell signs with Michigan: 90% (He's supposed to enroll classes and start on Wednesday)
  • Chance Michael Chandler ever wears Maize and Blue: 20%
For the audio highlights of Michigan's win over Illinois, click HERE

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