Michigan Wolverines Basketball Analytics Tracker: Week 4 Statistical Deep Dive

Brandon Brown

Following a three-game stretch during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in which Michigan appeared nearly unstoppable offensively, the Wolverines struggled just as much—if not more—in a 58-43 loss to No. 1 Louisville. U-M’s 43-point output was its lowest since a 54-42 loss suffered to Michigan State in 2009, and its 18 first-half points the fewest since managing only 15 during the first 20 minutes of the same 2009 contest against the Spartans.

The stark contrast in offensive efficiency between the three victories in the Bahamas and the drubbing at Louisville provides a glimpse at the inconsistencies associated with a team still learning a new system. At its best, Michigan is one of the more difficult match-ups in the country, but an off night can produce long stretches of offensive woes that can keep any foe in a game. It’s a juxtaposition seen previously when head coach Juwan Howard’s squad nearly squandered a 30-point lead in its season opening victory over Appalachian State.

Individually, the offensive efficiency numbers were abysmal against the Cardinals. Senior center Jon Teske led the Wolverines with a 90.0 Offensive Rating (ORtg), followed by sophomore guard David DeJulius (64.0), senior point guard Zavier Simpson (60.0), freshman forward Franz Wagner (53.0), junior guard Eli Brooks (38.0) and junior forward Isaiah Livers (36.0). An ORtg below 100.0 is considered less than good by KenPom standards.

To put this (hopefully) one-game anemic anomaly into perspective, Simpson averaged a 137.7 ORtg during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament with DeJulius (131.3) and Livers (127.0) also notching an ORtg average better than 125.0.

Teske was the only double-digit scorer against UL with 18. In the Bahamas, U-M boasted at least four double-digit scorers in all three contests, and had at least three players score 10 points or more in each of its first seven games.

Against the Cardinals, the Wolverines shot just 30.8 percent on two-point tries and 15.8 percent from beyond the arc. During the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, they shot 58.4 percent from two and 47.1 percent from three. Michigan managed just 15 made field goals, including three three-pointers, and logged only six assists against Louisville. In the seven games prior, Howard's squad averaged 31.0 made field goals, 10.2 three-point makes, and 17.4 assists.

Here is a closer look at more notable trends and advanced stats using the KenPom statistical model. If you are unfamiliar with KenPom and its metrics, you can read a quick primer here.

*To qualify for individual conference rankings, players must log between 40 percent and 60 percent of possible minutes played, depending on the metric.

Key Trends:

• Michigan is still in the top 10 in the country in Effect Field Goal Percentage at 57.4 eFG% (1st Big Ten, 9th nationally), but its Offensive Efficiency ranking dropped from fourth in the conference to seventh. The Wolverines’ 39.7 three-point percentage (3P%) is good for second in the league and 21st in the nation.

• Head coach Juwan Howard has often spoken of the importance of ‘sharing the game’ during his press conferences, and it is an ideology that the Wolverines have practiced on the court. Only Teske ranks in the Top 25 in the Big Ten in Percentage of Shots Taken (%Shots), or the percentage of a team’s shots an individual takes while on the court, sitting at No. 14 with a 25.2 %Shots score. Livers is the only other Michigan player in the Top 50, with his 22.2 %Shots placing him at No. 35 in the conference.

• U-M has progressively cut down on turnovers over the last four games. After giving the ball away 22 games against Iowa State, the Wolverines turned the ball over 16 times against North Carolina, 11 times against Gonzaga and 10 times against Louisville. Their 18.9 Turnover Rate (TORate) places them 10th in Big Ten in the metric.

• Michigan played a stellar game defensively against Louisville and improved its defensive efficiency ranking from third in the Big Ten and 12th nationally to second in the conference and seventh in the country.

• U-M has done a stellar job guarding the three-point line all season, with only 26.0 percent of opponent’s field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc (1st Big Ten, 8th nationally).In its last four games, all against Tier A competition, Michigan has held opposing shooters to just 17 three-point makes on 63 tries (26.9 percent), and has held three of its last four opponents under 25.0 percent shooting from deep.

Starting 5

Point Guard: Senior Zavier Simpson

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 11.9 points, 8.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds

Simpson is on pace to set career-highs with a 112.8 ORtg, 61.4 eFG%, and 25.7 Percentage of Possessions Used (%Poss). His 49.1 Assist Rate (ARate) is the third-best in the country, and would be the highest recorded by a Wolverines since KenPom advanced statistics were created in 2002.

Shooting Guard: Junior Eli Brooks

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 11.5 points, 2.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds

Brooks has been Michigan’s streakiest player this season. He has logged an ORtg of 100.0 or better four times, including a 130.0 season-best, but has struggled with an ORtg of under 100.0 four times, including an abysmal 38.0 in the loss to Louisville.

Small Forward: Junior Isaiah Livers

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 15.3 points, 1.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds

Michigan’s leading scorer, Livers also boasts the squads best ORtg (117.1, 22nd Big Ten) and second-best eFG% (64.0, 5th Big Ten). He has logged an ORtg better than 185.0 twice this season—214.0 vs HBU and 187.0 against Gonzaga.

Power Forward: Freshman Franz Wagner

Traditional Stat Line: 6.0 points, 1.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds

Wagner is shooting a team-low 28.6 percent from beyond the arc, and has a team-low 79.0 ORtg and 26.6 TORate. He did show glimpses of his potential with a 10-point, 102.0-ORtg performance against Gonzaga.

Center: Senior Jon Teske

Traditional Stat Line: 13.9 points, 1.0 assists, 9.8 rebounds

Teske has been the most consistently efficient offensive player for Michigan, registering an ORtg of 90.0 or better in all eight games this season, including a grade of 100.0 or better in five.

Off the Bench (Played in at least 10 percent of teams total minutes)

Sophomore Guard David DeJulius

Traditional Stat Line: 8.1 points, 1.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds

DeJulius continues to provide a spark in extended minutes off the bench, ranking second on the Wolverines in ORtg (114.1), and third in eFG% (63.3), Free-Throw Rate (28.9) and 3P% (44.0).

Sophomore Forward Brandon Johns Jr.:

Traditional Stat Line: 2.9 points, 0.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds

Johns has not recorded an ORtg of 100.0 or better over his last six games, but has contributed a 5.4 Blk% and 20.1 Defensive Rebound Percentage (DR%)—both good for second-best on the team.

Sophomore Center/Forward Colin Castleton:

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Average): 5.3 points, 0.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds

Castleton continues to see spotty playing time, averaging only eight minutes played in the last three contests. He has taken 21.0 percent of the Wolverines shots while on the floor, and has responded with a team-best 66.7 eFG%.

Sophomore guard Adrien Nunez:

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Average): 3.4 points, 0.1 assists, 0.0 rebounds

Nunez has seen his role diminish greatly since the return of freshman forward Franz Wagner, averaging just 3.3 minutes played over the last four games.

KenPom Most Frequent Lineup Combinations (last five games):

1. Simpson, Brooks, Livers, Wagner, Teske — 25.9%

2. Simpson, Brooks, Nunez, Livers, Teske — 7.3%

3. Simpson, DeJulius, Brooks, Livers, Teske — 6.4%

4. Brooks, DeJulius, Livers, Wagner, Teske — 6.1%

5. Simpson, DeJulius, Livers, Wagner, Teske — 5.4%

KenPom Depth Chart (last five games):

PG: Simpson (73%), Brooks (23%)

SG: DeJulius (51%), Brooks (41%)

SF: Livers (53%), Nunez (16%), Brooks (12%), Wagner (9%), Bajema (6%)

PF: Wagner (44%), Johns (30%), Livers (24%)

C: Teske (64%), Castleton (28%), Davis (6%)

What stands out to you? Which of these trends are you most excited or concerned about heading into conference play? Comment below!!!