NOTEBOOK: With another loss, Michigan has no margin of error for shot at postseason
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Michigan's chances at the postseason shrunk Tuesday night.
After another close loss, this time a 57-56 crusher to No. 5 Michigan State, the Wolverines can’t help but think about their postseason prospects, which look more and more perilous by the game.
“We definitely think about that,” senior forward DeShawn Sims said. “We have to stay as sane as possible because it’s hard not to think about. You still don’t know what could happen. Every other team could lose every other game and we can win all our games.
“And you don’t know what could happen.”
But Michigan also knows its chances for big Ratings Percentage Index wins against
quality teams are dwindling.
As of Sunday’s RPI, Michigan (10-10 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) has three games remaining against top teams in the RPI, a component of the NCAA selection process. It has Wisconsin (No. 10) at home on Feb. 6, Michigan State (No. 14) on the road and Ohio State (No. 46) on the road.
When the selection committee looks at Michigan's resume, it will deduct one from the win column, because Michigan beat Division II Northern Michigan.
Michigan needs a run from a team that has won at least two games in a row just twice all season.
“We just need to get hot,” guard Zack Novak said. “Play hard and just find a way to squeak these ones out.”
Refs down from three to two
In the middle of the first half, longtime referee Jim Burr was taken to the locker room and did not return.Â ESPN reported that Burr suffered from back spasms.Â
His absence but meant the two remaining officials - Ed Corbett and Antinio Perry - have more court to cover.
“It depends on people’s style of play but I also coached a long time where there were only two of them,” Beilein said. “Sometimes that third official might not be calling anything anyhow or sometimes he may be trying to call the game, you don’t know.”
Burr, though, is one of the game’s most respected officials, most often doing Big Ten and Big East games.
He’s done the Final Four more than 10 times.
“Losing Jim Burr, you don’t want to lose him in any game,” Beilein said. “There’s some times in some other games I would have liked to lose a guy like that.
“But not Jim Burr.”
Harris doesn’t start
For the second straight game, senior forward Anthony Wright started in place of Michigan guard Manny Harris.
This time, Harris wasn’t suspended.
Beilein said not starting Harris had nothing to do with his one-game suspension on Saturday at Purdue for an unsportsmanlike act in practice. He said it was to ensure the Wolverines didn't stagnate when they went to the bench.
“It was let’s get him coming off the bench and go in and just be Manny in there,” Beilein said. “But I expect he’ll be back in the starting lineup.”
It is the first time Harris has come off the bench since seventh grade.
Right call on Lucas elbow
In the first half, Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas was called for an offensive foul when he hit sophomore guard Laval Lucas-Perry as he crossed the ball from left to right in front of his body.
The crowd went crazy, mostly because it was the exact same play that gotÂ Harris ejected from a game against Purdue one season ago, in which he elbowed Boilermaker Chris Kramer.
Michigan coach John Beilein saw no problem with the play, and felt it was the right call.
“They should not be thrown out for that. It is an offensive foul, that’s the only time I didn’t agree with Jim Burr, not the only time but was one of the times,” Beilein said. “But it was, and I took, that’s the way the call should be made.
“ If you make a basketball move, and I didn’t see the basketball move, but if you make the basketball move and the guy’s face is right there, it shouldn’t be an ejection.”
Lucas stayed in the game and made the game-winner with 3.5 seconds left.
This and that
Michigan forced Michigan State into 18 turnovers. Michigan State has now beaten Michigan three straight times and in five of their last six meetings. With 16 points, Harris moved into 18th place all-time in scoring with 1,467 points passing Phil Hubbard (1,455 points). Next up is Bernard Robinson Jr., with 1,505. Sims also moved up a spot with his 19 points into 23rd place (1,398 points). He passed John Tidwell (1,386 points).