I’ll be honest. One week ago, I presumed that the content of today’s article would be considerably different. It’s not that I don’t have faith in Michigan basketball, far from it! But, call me crazy, given this particular team’s road record, especially against top-ranked teams, an article describing the Wolverines’ marching forward as a remaining Big Ten undefeated was not exactly what I was expecting to be writing. Nevertheless, here we are, 5-0, tied atop the conference with Michigan State, fully grasping our own destiny.
The Week That Was
The Big Ten is like an episode of Homeland. Just when you finally think you’ve got it all figured out, Sergeant Brody escapes, Minnesota upsets Ohio State, and you’re left sitting on the ground, dumbfounded and depressed (Tom Brady style), wondering what, for the love of god, just happened. And this past week did not disappoint, providing it’s usual assortment of Rock-Paper-Scissors type games; Indiana upsets Wisconsin, and then falls to Northwestern. Minnesota beats Ohio State then loses to Iowa. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that Michigan has one avenue to success, the one that it is following right now; winning. A double-digit suppressing of Penn State primed the Wolverines for a showdown against the recently-upset Badgers, eager to discredit the Indiana debacle as a one-time fluke. But Nik Stauskas simply was not ready to let that happen. A downright superstar performance from Stauskas, plus monumental efforts contributed by Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert, ensured Michigan’s win, as the Wolverines controlled the pace of the game throughout, leading by as many as 15 points. A perfect 5-0 start to Big Ten play has John Beilein and Co. poised for a return to the Top 25, especially with falling stars like Ohio State and Kentucky.
Before delving into what’s featured on Michigan’s docket this week, I’d just like to point out that Monday night Ohio State heads into Lincoln to face an underrated Nebraska, meaning the Buckeyes could very well start off 2-4 in the Big Ten. But I digress. Michigan has a very full plate this coming week, facing a sizeable appetizer in Top 15 ranked Iowa, before venturing into the 20-ounce porterhouse that is Michigan State on the road. Again this week the Wolverines will be forced to prove their legitimacy, as the discernable underdogs in both games, and still reeling from the undetermined loss of Mitch McGary. This loss will certainly have the greatest effect against Michigan State, a team equally hindered by the fragility of big man Adreian Payne, who has missed games sparingly this season due to a foot injury. The matchup to watch on Saturday will undoubtedly be in the backcourt, pinning Stauskas, LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. against potential Wooden Award candidates in Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
Mitch McGary still has yet to be seen on the bench following reportedly successful back surgery. His recovery timetable has still yet to be established, thereby augmenting the already increased role of both Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, who have each been adding extraordinary contributions.