Michigan Basketball runs into a buzzsaw named Johnny Juzang

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

For those who chose to say up well into the night, you’re likely as tired and angry today as I am, but it will always be well worth it to see our beloved Michigan Basketball team, although they weren’t able to cut down the nets.

UCLA played a tremendous game and deserved to advance to the final four.  This one ended with a final score of 51-49 Bruins.

Michigan Basketball struggled early and often in this one.  It seemed the Wolverines were quickly frustrated by UCLA’s zone defense.  Hunter Dickinson may have had the worst start to a game last night than he had all season long.

The 7-foot center couldn’t secure the basketball inside.  He started the night with a couple of turnovers, an airball, and having a shot blocked by a far smaller Bruins’ defender.  The first official timeout in this tournament comes after the first stoppage of play when the clock is under 16 minutes to-go.

At the time, the score was just 4-2 UCLA, but the extended timeout couldn’t have come at a better time for head coach Juwan Howard’s club.  It allowed the Wolverines to take a deep breath and hit the reset button.  Following the timeout, Dickinson found himself once again and started to eat inside against the much-smaller Bruins lineup, but unfortunately for Michigan, it wouldn’t last.

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Overall, Michigan Basketball easily played their worst half of basketball in the tournament, maybe one of their worst halves in the entire season.  That was the bad news.  The good news, despite playing an atrocious half of basketball, the Wolverines were only down four points after the first 27-23.  Franz Wagner, Eli Brooks, and Mike Smith shot a combined 3/12 in the first half.  Ouch.

It was the Johnny Juzang show for UCLA as they beat Michigan Basketball in the Elite Eight.

The spectacular guard finished the first half with 18 of the Bruins’ 27 points and finished the night with a game-high 28 points.  The Wolverines did not have any answer for him in the first half, and late when it mattered most. Juzang went 11/19 from the field, 4/5 from the free-throw line, and 2/5 from beyond the arc in 37 minutes of work.

Johnny Juzang was forced to leave the ball game early on in the second half with an ankle sprain that has lingered for quite some time.  That’s when Michigan found a way to claw back into this one, enjoying an 8-0 run with the star sidelined for three minutes of action. He’d return to the ball game after receiving some fresh tape.

Michigan Basketball didn’t get much help from Franz Wagner.  Wagner picked the worst time of year to go cold.  Wagner went a revolting 1/10 from the field and 0/2 from beyond the arc, totaling just four points.  Insult to injury, Wagner shot an airball late for a win coming out of a Michigan timeout.

The Wolverines had two more opportunities to win or tie this game.

Mike Smith had to sprint the length of the court with six-seconds remaining down by two.  Smith got a good look when he pulled up at the three-point line but missed the shot.  The rebound was knocked out of bounds by UCLA, leaving half of a second on the clock.

Howard again chose to go with the ice-cold Wagner from beyond the arc on the catch and shoot for the win.  Wagner got the shot off but was wide left off the glass.

Why didn’t Howard look to a hot outside shooter like Chaundee Brown or Eli Brooks cutting to the basket?

Of the three total three-point shots Michigan Basketball hit, Brown had two.  Dickinson led the Wolverines with 11 points which basically tells you everything you need to know.

Next on the docket for the Bruins is a stellar Gonzaga Bulldogs team that has simply steamrolled each of their opponents’ insight by nearly 20 points.  Thus far, the closest game for undefeated Gonzaga in the tournament has been a 16 point victory over Oklahoma.

The Bulldogs cruised through their Elite Eight contest blowing out the sixth-seeded USC Trojans to the tune of 85-66.  This will be a tough task for UCLA, but stranger things have happened.

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This is what makes March Madness so great; it just takes a down-night for Gonzaga or an incredible performance from Juzang again to advance.