This Year Is About Appreciating Something Pretty Good That's Not Great

In thinking about this year’s hoops team, let’s remember that it lost its best player, captain, and one of two seniors (who was coming off season ending surgery last year) for 11 straight conference games. It lost its other senior, captain, and a key rotation member at worst for essentially the whole season after a few early minutes. Another of its best players had offseason back surgery. It’s big men all have sophomore or freshman eligibility.

Now, it’s been said numerous times that Michigan has beaten who it should beat and lost to most everyone else. First, beating every team you should is no small feat. It’s something MSU (home loss to Nebraska), Indiana (PSU), Purdue (Illinois), Wiscy (Northwestern), and most others have not been able to do. It’s something that often separates tourney teams from NIT teams. Second, the win over Maryland – ranked #2 in the polls, 6 in kenpom, 5th in RPI, who has lost @UNC, @MSU, and @UM, and that’s it, who got victories in Madison and Columbus – is a very good win. The neutral court win against Texas is shaping up to be quite a good one. If UM can add even one more solid win, that’s going to be a decent looking collection of wins come Selection Sunday.

Of course, the main reason the season has felt rough isn’t just that the team has lost the games it has, but that it’s been trounced in many of those games, losing all by at least 11, and looked somewhat defeated at times. And it’s legitimately frustrating. Indeed, it’s been one of the annoying things even about the better Beilein teams, that they occasionally get blown out. And this isn’t one of his best teams. The IU, MSU, SMU, and even Xavier games pretty much sucked.

But this is a team that still has an offense that kenpom ranks 14, that still is likely to win at least 20 games even before the B1G tourney and be solidly in the tournament, that still has room to grow this season (especially with Caris coming back) and next season (Robinson and the bigs are going to get better, Zak and Walton will be better as seniors, not to mention some impact depth at guard coming in, etc), that’s full of likable guys playing hard. If you like basketball and you like UM, it could be worse and could still get better with Caris. Sometimes it’s okay to appreciate something that’s frustrating at times and not great, but still pretty good.


I would contest that this team is pretty good. They’re #47 on KenPom. There are 73 teams in the major conferences (P5 + Big East). And their win profile fits that ranking.

This team is mediocre. Just depends on whether you can accept mediocre or not.

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I understand the idea about Zak and Derrick being seniors but Walton is still extremely inconsistent in his performances. He comes up with a real good performance every 10-14 days which is good but where was Walton against IU/MSU? Was he just overwhelmed due to the opposition and Minnesota is real bad so he came out big? Irvin is really struggling large now, I have never seen a 6’7 guy get more lay ups blocked than him.

Do you think this season is pretty good because last year was bad? Or because the bubble is extremely weak this year and with 2 locks in normal years but due to sanctions of SMU/Louisville 2 more at large bids have opened up?

Well, I think there are 75 teams in those conferences, and that doesn’t include teams like SMU, UConn, Cinci, Memphis, Zaga, Wichita State, Dayton, VCU, etc. with serious basketball programs. And there are some other teams (Valpo, Ark-LR) from other conferences who are above us in Kempom right now, so it’s a little inconsistent to use the number of power-6 teams compared to kenpom numbers. I think if you took a close look you’d find UM is in the top half of power-6 teams, though probably not by much.

Anyway, I consider a team that finishes with 20+ wins, a winning B1G record, and a tourney appearance “pretty good.” Maybe that’s mediocre to you, and it’s certainly not great. But whatever term you want to use, pretty good, decent, mediocre, it’s the kind of year even good programs have, especially when they lose their best players for much of the season, that many power-6 schools would be quite happy about, and that can still bring some fun to a college basketball fan with the right attitude.


Or maybe you think this year is pretty bad because of last year? Like I’ve said, it’s not great or what I’d hope for most years, but if we get to 20 wins and have a winning conference record and make the tourney, that’s not a debacle – especially consider all the injuries we’ve suffered and that we are pretty young, and that we still could get Caris back and see some improvement.

This team starts 2 juniors, 1 soph, 1 rs soph or classified as another junior right now. I would hardly consider that being a pretty young team. They haven’t lost most of these games because they’re “pretty young” they have lost these games because they haven’t worked as hard and horrible defensively.

Is LSU a pretty good team leading the SEC but 15-9 overall and a chance for 20 wins? This idea of 20 wins being pretty good needs to be looked at on a case by case basis.

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as said above its all about what you are willing to accept.

I guess here’s the question: what would you have expected this team’s record to be in the Big Ten playing 10 of 11 games without Caris?

The guy was the whole team for much of December (KenPom MVP in 6 of 8 games, not including 22 pts and 10 dimes against Illinois). Was this team ever going to compete for a Big Ten crown without him? The answer is probably no.

How we judge this season is going to come down to the next 2 or 3 weeks to see how Michigan responds in some of these games? Obviously they aren’t playing well right now, but this team beat Maryland and is at least somewhat capable of putting a good game together.


I would expect not to get smacked around by the good teams without Caris because JB has recruited well enough to get through an injury.

Our B1G record is inflated right now with who we have played. So looking at record is not a great indicator of what actually is taking place. It’s very deceiving

I do agree about the next 2-3 weeks because hopefully the Caris excuse will be gone if the team is still playing the same


In my opinion, people wouldn’t be complaining if the Indiana and MSU games were competitive losses. It’s not just a record thing. I don’t think people expect to win the Big Ten without Caris, they just want to not get embarrassed.

Yeah. The two home losses were ugly, Michigan has had a couple games like that every year just about, but it’s something else to have it happen at home. Basically unacceptable and I think Indiana really broke this team mentally. Yesterday might have helped, but curious to see the carryover on Saturday.

On the other hand, I’m surprised that they haven’t lost to a team like Nebraska or Penn State along the way. No team is immune from a slip-up like that and they’ve avoided it thus far despite no LeVert/Albrecht.

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Do you have any thoughts regarding Caris’ return to the lineup? The fact that he was cleared, had practiced an hour at least once or twice, and had the decision himself as to whether to return and didn’t, says something to me. I think Coach B expected him to return last or this week with his comments after the Penn State game, but it still hasn’t happened. Would like to hear your impressions of the situation.

Fair question, but don’t have a good answer for you.

It’s ALL mental for Caris right now. He’s got 6-7 weeks left in his college experience, should he potentially risk his future to play in 8 more games? I don’t know, but he owes no explanation to anyone for the road he decides to travel.

Best of luck young man, you have been an amazing story. :smile:

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I think it’s in his mind and between the ears. I have no doubt he’s hesitant about returning and reinjuring himself again. This is why I have a hard time understanding why people think he would be a huge boost to the team. If he’s hesitant about returning he isn’t helping the team.

I pray he comes back soon And can get into a groove by big ten tourney. I don’t want him to risk his career but at the same time if he’s not getting any pain id be mad he didn’t come back yet. If he’s still in pain more power to him just sit out. Damn freak injury late in that game. Can’t catch a break. We could be dangerous with a healthy Caris. I really wish we could see it. I meSn they did say he was definitely coming back recently right?

On a side note I bet most people don’t think so but I feel we could upset Purdue. I think we should pack it in like Minnesota. If Walton can manage to play like that again we can take the boilermAjers. I love d Walt I just wish he could find consistency. I’d also love to see him drive more. Purdue can be beaten. More action for Aubrey on offense to. Coming off curls that guy is dangerous. He’s a Great shooter who needs the looks and touches. He can make up for his d by out scoring his opponent. But if Aubrey Duncan and rahkman all come to play we can be a tough out. Here’s to wAlton catching fire and dropping dimes

How does one not “accept” it, whine about it on a message board? There’s really nothing to accept or not as fans right now. Beilein’s not going anywhere, we know pretty much what the team is going to look like this year and the next. I don’t “accept” anything other than a conference championship and a final four berth, but I’m still going to try to watch, understand, and enjoy the games as best I can.


Fans have been dictating what happens to coaches forever. If wins don’t happen people stop going. People stop going coaches will get fired.

Have you given up your tickets? Donated less? etc.?

Anyway, Beilein is not going anywhere anytime soon, and seasons where the team wins 20 games with a 10-8 record and makes the tourney are not going to hasten that departure, especially if they’re surrounded by better seasons. Of course the team still has to get there…

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I haven’t gone to a single game this year or bought a single piece of basketball merchandise. That combination hasn’t happened since I had my first summer job 15 years ago.

I bet I’m not the only one who’s slowly lost interest in this team.