Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Michigan v Wisconsin

Michigan’s most important player this month? It’s not Trey Burke


The most important player for Michigan as we head into Selection Sunday isn’t their Player of the Year point guard, Trey Burke, or their first-team all-Big Ten shooting guard, Tim Hardaway.

It isn’t Nik Stauskas and it isn’t Mitch McGary, either.

The guy that will be the determining factor in how far Michigan will end up going in the NCAA tournament is Glenn Robinson III.

And it’s simple, really. Michigan is not a very good defensive basketball team. They weren’t early in the year, and they’ve progressively gotten worse as teams have started to figure out where they are the most vulnerable. Just look at what happened to them on Friday. After Wisconsin started ice-cold from the field, scoring all of six points in the first 13:34 while shooting 3-20 from the floor, they still managed to take home a 68-59 win in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Robinson had eight points on 4-8 shooting, another quiet night that has become an all-too-familiar trend.

Michigan gave up 62 points in the final 26 minutes to Wisconsin, who shot 19-37 from the floor during that stretch. That’s bad.

So what’s wrong with the Wolverines? Well, McGary big and burly, but he doesn’t have the lateral quickness to guard in space. Burke can make plays defensively, but he gambles and can also be beaten off the dribble.

Perhaps most importantly, when Michigan is at their best, they have four perimeter players on the floor, meaning only one of McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford plays at one time. That puts them at a serious disadvantage in the paint regardless of who is on the court, whether Robinson is at the four or John Beilein is playing four guards.

Here’s the thing about Robinson, however: not only is he the biggest wing that Jon Beilein has at his disposal, but he’s also the most talented. So not only does he have the best chance at holding his own in the post and on the glass, he’s the most capable of taking advantage of a mismatch on the perimeter.

The problem is that he doesn’t do that often enough.

Robinson is a knockdown three point shooter that has terrific athleticism and length, and at 6-foot-7, he’s mobile enough to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim in a single dribble. But he settles, limiting himself to being nothing but a spot-up three-point shooter.

The whole reason that Michigan was considered a title contender was because they had NBA caliber athletes playing the same roles in the same offense that Beilein has always run. But when Robinson disappears and Michigan is forced to use Spike Albrecht at the two, sliding Hardaway and Stauskas to the forward spots, it takes some of that advantage away.

And it really hurts them defensively.

So unless GR3 decides to play like the potential first round pick that he is, Michigan is not going to live up to their potential.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Texas A&M-CC with an off-the-backboard dunk

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This is pretty nice from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who has made a habit out of getting themselves on the highlight reel.

Here’s another angle of the dunk:

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen trips Louisville player

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) loses the ball as North Carolina State's BeeJay Anya (21) and Cody Martin (15) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Duke won 88-80. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Whenever anyone puts together a list of the most hated players in college basketball history, there is always a common theme: it’s headlined by white guys from Duke.

Christian Laettner. J.J. Redick. Steve Wojciechowski. Jon Scheyer. Greg Paulus. Bobby Hurley.

It was only a matter of time before Grayson Allen, Duke’s latest caucasian star, found himself on that list, and last night might have been the moment that got him there.

[RELATED: How a busted pair of sneakers led Grayson Allen to Duke]

Allen is in the midst of an All-American caliber season with the Blue Devils, averaging 20.8 points, 4.6 boards and 3.6 assists while shooting 43.9 percent from three. He’s also athletic enough to dunk over entire front lines in traffic, and he does all this while looking strikingly similar to Ted Cruz.


He also plays with a chip on his shoulder. After last year’s national title game, Justise Winslow let it slip that Mike Krzyzewski’s pet name for Allen is ‘a**hole’, and a person close to the program told me that no one wants to guard him in practice they’ll “most likely get an elbow to the face.”

In other words, his ceiling for national hatred is roughly equivalent to Brandon Ingram’s ceiling as a small forward in the NBA.

And the tipping point may have come last night during Duke’s 72-65 win over No. 13 Louisville.

Early in the second half, Allen received a flagrant foul for tripping Louisville forward Ray Spalding. You can’t get in a kid’s mind and know intent, but this sure looks like he meant to trip Spalding:

I don’t know how long Allen will be around at Duke, but if he does remain in Durham for four years, he’s got a shot at putting up numbers similar to what Redick posted during his career. By the end, when Redick was a national sensation and the target of the worst jeers you can imagine coming from student sections across the country, he was able to channel that into motivation.

Redick fed off of the crowd turning on him.

He wanted Maryland fans to chant, ‘F— you JJ’, because it then felt just that much better when he put 30 on them in a win.

If Allen sticks around for another season, he needs to embrace that mentality. He needs to get used to being the target of all the Duke hatred. Because it’s coming.