Sunday, March 16, 2014

How Michigan Threw the Big Ten Championship Game

It's really too bad Michigan had to throw the Big Ten Championship Game, it should have been a great game. Unfortunately, the fix was in, so the Wolverines deliberately turned in another horrible effort. If Michigan had been allowed to give 100 percent in this game, Michigan State still might have won, because they have a fine team, but they wouldn't have won 69-55, I can guarantee that. It would have been a close, hard-fought struggle like the first two meetings between these two teams.

There are several things to look for when a game is fixed, and this one had most of them in spades. Leaving the opponent wide open for easy baskets is one of the telltale signs, along with failure to hustle after rebounds and loose balls, deliberate turnovers and uncharacteristically poor shot selection. Another thing to watch for is when players suddenly find they're unable to make a layup, and when the team shooting percentage is drastically lower than usual.

Michigan is one of the leaders in the nation in shooting percentage, consistently making 40 to 60 percent from the field. Coming into this game, they were ranked 21st in the nation with an average of 48.1 percent despite deliberately missing more than their share of baskets in games they were required to throw. Michigan State was 31st at 47.4. In their first two meetings this season, despite losing both games, MSU outshot Michigan from the field 46-45 percent, and 54-50 percent. Both teams were close to their season averages,  but not in this game.

While MSU was right around its usual percentage at 50.9 percent, Michigan shot an abysmal 30.9 percent. From 3 -point range, Michigan was even worse at 28.6 percent, and MSU was way below average at 11.8 percent. Imagine what the score would have been if Michigan State had made its usual 40 percent. That would have meant they made seven 3-pointers instead of two, so the final score would have been 84-55. Perhaps that would have raised too many eyebrows, though. So Michigan State deliberately missed a bunch of 3-pointers to keep the game closer.

Funny how Michigan shot so poorly from the field, considering they were 15 of 16 from the free-throw line for 93.8 percent. Another indication this game was not on the level.

Despite outrebounding MSU 31-28 in their first game this season, Michigan was obliterated on the boards in this game, 38-22. That indicates deliberate failure to hustle after rebounds. Also, Michigan committed only 2 turnovers in the second game and made 9 in this game -- another highly suspicious statistic.