There is really no other way to describe it. Although I stated in the Big Ten/ACC preview that Virginia was probably slightly underrated and would be a legitimate opponent, there is no way I believed Michigan would end up losing by 12 points. Michigan was simply too good of a team to let that happen.
Unfortunately, I and most Michigan fans were wrong. Due to a few early fouls from Tim Hardaway, Michigan played almost the entire first half without their star offensive player. Michigan stayed solid for most of the first half and only trailed by 1 going into halftime, but the big problem occurred when Hardaway came out flat in the 2nd half and Michigan players got into foul trouble.
Hardaway ended the night with 5 points. Completely unfathomable if I had described this Monday night. This was an unranked Virginia, Hardaway had put up 21 on Memphis and 19 on Duke. This was easily Hardaway's worst game of the season, but, as I stated in the game's preview, this first true road test for Michigan told a lot about how this season. This team will go as far as Tim Hardaway takes them.
There have been 2 games this year when Hardaway's performance has been pretty questionable (I will ignore games such as Ferris State because, well, it's Ferris State). Hardaway came out completely flat against Duke and was horrible against Virginia. Hardaway ended up with 19 points against Duke, but they ALL came in the 2nd half. You can't play top competition like Duke and have the best player on the team scoring 0 in the first half and hope to win. The same can be said about the Virginia game, except Hardaway showed up for even less of the game.
Now, my point is this. Michigan has lost 2 games this season, against Duke and Virginia. One game this team probably should have lost (Duke), but the other this team should have certainly won (Virginia). If Hardaway continues his practice of only showing up for some games, this Michigan team will not have the great season which has been predicted of them.
Burke has shown that he can really play and will be a major weapon, but if Hardaway doesn't show up in road games or for entire halfs, Michigan will not be able to beat the top competition such as Ohio State or Wisconsin this year. They will probably still make the tournament, but until Michigan, and specifically Hardaway, can turn this corner, I can't see the team going that far because this team simply can't score without Hardaway.
Iowa State (5-2) is a perfect chance for #14 Michigan to change the team's direction. Iowa State may not be the best team in the nation (lost to a 4-3 Drake, yes Drake, I have no idea who they are either), but they have 2 Michigan State transfers in Chris Allen and Korie Lucious. I think this alone will get the team fired up enough to get ahead of their poor performance on Tuesday. Along with this, the home-court advantage is going to propel them for much of the season.
- Hardaway and Burke both reach double-digits
- Morgan gets into foul trouble, but Horford bails him out
- Smotrycz leads the team in rebounds Saturday