The Wolverines hung on in Indianapolis to beat Colorado State convincingly. Read for an analysis of the game and what to expect from Michigan basketball moving forward.
Michigan Still Dancing Despite Poor First Half Against Colorado State
It was a shaky start for Head Coach Juwan Howard’s squad in the first half of Michigan’s round of 64 matchup against the Colorado State Rams. The Wolverines were silent from the perimeter as they couldn’t buy a bucket and faced a very impressive first half defensive performance by Colorado State.
Wolverine fans were biting their nails as Michigan found themselves down by as much as 15 points late in the first quarter. Whatever Coach Howard said to his team at the half must’ve had an impact, however, as Michigan took command of the game after they came out of the locker room.
Wolverines Still Dancing
Michigan’s big problem in the first half was an inability to score from the perimeter. Colorado State was playing a strong zone defense in the first half that mostly cut down on the Wolverines’ ability to create space and take reliable shots.
Colorado State’s early lead was largely due to their 3 point shooting. Forward Deshaun Thomas finished 5-7 from beyond the arc and was the Rams’ leading scorer in this game with 15 points. At the same time, forward David Roddy was hitting jumpers and creating scoring opportunities by grabbing offensive boards.
Michigan’s leading scorer, center Hunter Dickinson, was largely shut down in the first half as Michigan was treading water by getting to the line on free throw chances. To add to their first half problems, Colorado State tormented Michigan’s defense with an excellent transition game that had the Wolverines struggling to keep up.
The Rams’ diversity of players who were able to force turnovers and make Michigan take low-percentage jump shots was a big reason for their first half success.
It was a different tune for the Wolverines as they came out on the floor for the second half, however. Hunter Dickinson started really heating up in the paint and ended up with 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting when the dust settled. A strong performance from Dickinson became even more paramount to Michigan’s success in this game after it was announced that point guard DaVonte Jones would be out due to concussion protocols.
Dickinson stepped up in the second half and elevated the rest of his team’s game as a result. Forward Caleb Houstan was a prime example of this as his field goal accuracy and 3 point game elevated noticeably in the second half. Houstan finished with 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting and was 3 of 8 from 3 point range.
A real unsung hero for the Wolverines in the second half was senior guard Eli Brooks. Brooks finished with 16 points on 5 of 13 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. He also played all 40 minutes for Michigan and proved himself as the workhorse in this one.
Michigan put a poor start behind them and proved what they’re capable of when the team is playing up to potential in the second half.
After this win over Colorado State, the Wolverines will take on the No. 3 seeded Tennessee Volunteers who defeated the Longwood Lancers in their first round matchup. The Volunteers are a much more formidable opponent than the Rams so it’ll be all hands on deck for Michigan in the round of 32.
Their success is again dependent on strong performances by Dickinson, Houstan and Brooks as well as a return of point guard DeVonte Jones; the team’s third best scorer.
Michigan won’t be able to afford getting off to a slow start the way they did against Colorado State and beating Tennessee will depend on strong play throughout with as few turnovers and missed opportunities as possible.
There’s no doubt about the prestige of Michigan basketball, but if they want to go far in this year’s tournament, they’re going to need to clamp down on opponents moving forward.