With Michigan sitting outside the Top 25 and looking in with a 6-3 record, this season hasn’t started off quite the way most had hoped it would. The loss at Iowa State, while not surprising, was still disappointing. The loss to Charlotte in Puerto Rico was disconcerting. A trip to Duke resulted in Michigan being saddled with their third loss of the season. The Wolverines didn’t lose their third game last year until Feb. 9.
The table is set for Michigan to salvage their non-conference schedule. It may seem ludicrous to think that with the #1 ranked Arizona Wildcats up next on the docket. If you’ll allow me, I’ll explain why this game has upset city written all over it.
1. Michigan followed up the Duke loss by dismantling Houston Baptist. Yes, they’re supposed to crush a team like that. However, the Wolverines more than doubled the Huskies’ point total in a 107-53 thrashing.
2. Arizona hails from the Mountain time zone and Saturday’s noon tip greatly favors the Wolverines. After traveling across the country, the Wildcats will step into a frenzied Crisler Center at 10am Mountain time.
3. Arizona won on Wednesday night to run their record to a sparkling 10-0. Meanwhile, Michigan has had the entire week off. Giving John Beilein a full week to prepare for a game is a thought that keeps opposing coaches up late at night.
4. The extra practice time is vital for Michigan’s best player, Mitch McGary. The big fella is still not in prime condition, but he is improving his strength and stamina on a daily basis. He played his best game of the season against Houston Baptist with a remarkable stat line of 12 points, 9 boards, 6 assists, 4 steals and a block.
5. In Michigan’s three losses, Glenn Robinson III has averaged 8 points per game. Houston Baptist was just the medicine he needed. He scored 17 points on 6-9 shooting including 2-4 from three-point range. More importantly, he looked like he was having fun and had some bounce in his step. There are few, if any, players who can electrify a crowd the way Robinson does.
6. Michigan is 36-2 at home over the last three seasons. Crisler Center has never looked better and the energy in the building the last three years has been high voltage. Thanks in large part to a revved up Maize Rage, it’s a true home-court advantage for the Wolverines.
So there you have it folks. A six-pack of lucid reasons why Michigan will win on Saturday. This is a pivotal game for the Wolverines. A loss will drop them to 6-4. A win would be high profile, confidence building, bump their record up to 7-3 and give them some much needed positive momentum.
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