Michigan basketball vs. Rutgers takeaways

Michigan basketball was on a heater entering March, but the Wolverines squandered two straight games in overtime to Illinois and Indiana to make things much for difficult on themselves.

The maize and blue could’ve entered the Big Ten Tournament as high as the No. 2 seed, but due to two inexplicable losses, Michigan entered as the No. 8 seed and the Wolverines had a rematch with Rutgers on Thursday.

Michigan defeated the Scarlet Knights by 13 points earlier in the season and the Wolverines badly need at least one win in the Big Ten Tournament to have any chance to go dancing.

The Wolverines started fast against Rutgers taking a 9-2 lead, but the Scarlet Knights stormed back into the game. Michigan entered halftime with a slight three-point lead, 28-25. The Wolverines shot 48% from the field but between giving up seven turnovers and Rutgers securing eight offensive boards — the game was close.

But the Wolverines couldn’t muster anything at all offensively in the second half and Rutgers took the win with ease. Michigan shot 4-for-21 from the field in the second and the Wolverines fell to the Scarlet Knights, 62-50.

Here are three takeaways.

Same issues, different game

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Michigan went into Thursday knowing it needed a win against Rutgers to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament but you wouldn’t have known that watching the game.

The Wolverines started strong on the offensive end of the court getting the ball to Hunter Dickinson, but once the Scarlet Knights keyed in on the big man — Michigan fell apart.

Once again turnovers were a key issue for Michigan. The Wolverines turned the ball over 14 times and that led to 18 Rutgers points off turnovers. The maize and blue also allowed 12 offensive rebounds to the Scarlet Knights and that led to 10 second-chance points. Just those two combinations allowed Rutgers to score 28 points.

And for too many times to count this season, Michigan struggled in the second half. The Wolverines were 4-for-21 shooting in the final 20 minutes of play. Nobody will win a game doing that. The Wolverines struggled to adjust on the offensive end and Michigan flat-out looked as if it didn’t know what to do.

Zero help for Hunter Dickinson

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Hunter Dickinson wasn’t extremely efficient on Thursday, but he scored 24 points against Rutgers, and he scored more than half of Michigan’s points.

But the Wolverines’ big man had zero help.

Juwan Howard looked as if his plan was to feed Dickinson all game long. It worked in the first half, but Rutgers made a point to double Dickinson as soon as he caught the ball in the post. Unfortunately for Michigan, nobody else could help.

Kobe Bufkin, Jett Howard, and Dug McDaniel combined for 17 points and the Wolverines needed much more from their usual playmakers. Bufkin and McDaniel alone have been sensational lately, but neither could get anything going against Rutgers.

Michigan is NIT bound

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As mentioned earlier, Michigan had to beat Rutgers if it was going to make the NCAA Tournament, and the Wolverines miserably failed to do so.

A ton of bracketologists had the maize and blue as a First Four Out heading into the Big Ten Tournament, so if Michigan could’ve defeated Rutgers then the Wolverines would have been in a good spot.

But Michigan didn’t get the job done and now the Wolverines will be headed to the NIT more than likely. The maize and blue haven’t missed the NCAA Tournament since 2015, but that streak is all but over.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire