John Beilein and Michigan Wolverines are going to be in some major trouble if they can’t find a way to get back on track in the Big Ten.
Earlier this season, Michigan won the 2k Classic tournament, dominating teams such as SMU and Marquette, two historically solid basketball programs. The Wolverines showed some promise, and things looked good.
Fast-forward to today and people are beginning to wonder if this team can even compete for an NCAA tournament bid — I know I am.
Last year, Michigan went into the Big Ten Tournament knowing that it would determine their fate of being a tourney team. Kam Chatman, who went on to transfer from Michigan, made a huge shot against the No. 1 seeded Indiana Hoosiers to win the game at the buzzer. The shot basically punched the Wolverines’ ticket to March Madness.
After a First Four victory against Tulsa, Michigan blew a double-digit lead to Notre Dame in the second half to end their season in the Field of 64.
However, last year’s result left a bit of hope for the 2016-17 season. Michigan returned seniors Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., and many playmakers from a team that finally got a taste of March together.
Now that hope seems to be fading with the fan base, and some might even be losing faith in John Beilein.
In Beilein’s tenure at Michigan, he has made the NCAA tournament 6-of-8 years with runs to the Championship Game and Elite Eight — much more than any coach in recent history has accomplished in Ann Arbor.
However in this state, it’s more of a “what have you done for me lately?” scenario. The answer: not much. Michigan missed the tournament in 2015, finishing with a 16-16 record, and barely got voted in last year.
Now the Wolverines are just 11-6 overall and 1-3 in conference play with losses to Illinois, Iowa, and Maryland, none of who are ranked.
Unless this team can find a way to put together some big wins in the middle of this season, which is still very possible, Beilein and Michigan are in serious danger of being left out of the tournament conversation for the second time in three years.
What I see is a team that isn’t playing well together, and a team that is getting bullied underneath the basket. If Michigan is going to compete, they are going to have to find a way to get more boards on the offensive and defensive end.
I also see a team, that yet again, is living and dying by the 3-pointer. As we’ve seen recently, when it isn’t going in, Michigan isn’t collecting wins.
The years Michigan made runs in the tournament, they had players like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway and Nik Stauskas These guys could bail them out late in the shot clock with their pure shooting and driving abilities.
While Irvin has made some clutch shots at times, he’s not the same kind of player. Neither is Walton. These are Beilein’ players, and right now, they are not getting the job done.
If Michigan doesn’t find a way to gain confidence and string together some wins soon, they won’t be playing past the Big Ten Tournament. Even more so, Beilein might find his job in jeopardy.
After hosting Nebraska at home, the Wolverines go on at Wisconsin. They return to play Illinois (who just blasted Michigan) and Indiana at home. Following, they play Michigan State twice, and Ohio State in a matter of 10 days. Yikes.
If this team is going to do anything this year, we need see it in the next couple of weeks. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long season for the team in Maize and Blue.
For Beilein, this could be his last.