Kaleb Tarczewski, Glenn Robinson III

New Year’s Resolutions: Michigan Wolverines

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood. Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out. WHAT DOES MICHIGAN PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Production from Glenn Robinson III

  • Why it will happen: Glenn Robinson scored a career-high 23 points against Holy Cross on Saturday, which followed a 17-point performance in a win over Stanford. And for one half against top-ranked Arizona, he was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field. Mitch McGary, a preseason All-American, is out indefinitely, electing for back surgery earlier this week, meaning the Wolverines will be looking for more from Robinson to go along with leading scoring Nik Stauskas. In four games since scoring just eight points in an ugly offensive performance against Duke, Robinson is averaging 19.3 points per game as the Wolverines are heading into Big Ten play.
  • Why it won’t happen: Going back to two weeks ago when Michigan lost to Arizona at home, Robinson posted only four points in the second half – two of which came when Kaleb Tarczewski was holding his ankle on the other end of the floor. Earlier in the season he was clearly struggling without last season’s player of the year Trey Burke. Those struggles could continue into conference play, especially with Michigan balancing the point guard play between Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht.

WHAT DOES MICHIGAN SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF? Miss on opportunities to land marquee wins

  • Why it will happen: The Wolverines entered a top-10 team, but without a healthy McGary, they have missed out on opportunities to defeat Iowa State in Ames, Duke in Cameron and Arizona at home. Heading into conference play — again without McGary — Michigan will have ample opportunities to land a win over a ranked opponent. The Wolverines will have four conference games — Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska and Penn State — to prepare before traveling to Wisconsin, the first of three games against ranked opponents (two of them on the road). Michigan could potentially play four more games against Top 25 teams in February.
  • Why it won’t happen: Michigan has struggled without Burke, and now are without the inside presence of McGary. Michigan may have multiple chances to pick up quality wins, but those games could easily end with more tallies in the loss column leaving little room for error.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.