The (#10) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it. On Wednesday (01/01/2021), they beat (#16) Minnesota 82-57 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 10-0 (5-0 in the Big Ten). Michigan is still all alone in 1st place in the Big Ten standings.
Hey, wait a minute: I thought Michigan was supposed to play two games this week; what happened? A postponement happened. Michigan was supposed to play at Penn State on Saturday (01/09/2021), but PSU has COVID-19 issues, and they’ve postponed 4 games so far, with 1 more postponed in the future. The game will be rescheduled.
The game that Michigan did play was a gem. Minnesota came in as one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, with wins over Iowa and Michigan State. The game was close for the entire first half, with Michigan ahead, but not by much. Michigan led by 6 at halftime, 32-26, but they opened up the 2nd half with a 17-4 run to push the lead up to 19 points (49-30), and that was the game. Minnesota never got closer than 17 points, and Michigan pushed the lead as high as 37 points, before they emptied the bench. The final margin of “only” 25 points isn’t indicative of the difference between the teams. It could have been 45 points.
The stats for the Minnesota game are very nice. Michigan shot very well overall (33-for-58 = 56.9%), they shot 3-pointers decently (4-for-13 = 30.8%), and they shot free throws well (12-for-15 = 80.0%). They won the rebounding battle (40-31), but they lost the turnover battle (13-12). They won this game with overall shooting.
Who Looked Good?
Once again, Dickinson is the man. He was the leading scorer, with 28 points, another new career high. He shot 12-for-15, and had a team-high 8 rebounds. He was awesome.
Livers had a good game, with 14 points and 7 rebounds. His only downside was 3-point shooting: 1-for-5.
Wagner also had a good game, with 12 points and 5 rebounds.
Smith didn’t hit double figures (7 points), but he did have 6 assists, and he played great defense on one of the better point guards in the league, Marcus Carr.
Brandon Johns, Jr. had a nice game, with 7 points and 4 rebounds.
Chaundee Brown, Jr. chipped in 5 points.
I’m not sure what to say about Brooks. On the one hand, he only scored 2 points, and he only played 21 minutes before he left the game with a gruesome injury: he had a tooth knocked out in an accidental collision with the elbow of a Minnesota player. On the other hand, he did have 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal.
Who Looked Not-So-Good?
All the mainstream players looked pretty good in this game.
Who Else Played?
Terrance Williams II played 7 minutes, and hit a pair of free throws.
The 3 scholarship players who aren’t part of the main rotation (Jace Howard, Zeb Jackson, and Adrien Nuñez) all played at the end of the game. Howard scored another point, with a free throw, and Jackson and Nuñez both made a basket.
One player from the scout team (Jaron Faulds) played at the end of the game. He didn’t score.
Who Didn’t Play?
Austin Davis is still out with his foot injury.
What Does It Mean?
The good news is: Michigan is the only undefeated team in the Big Ten, they’re 4-0 in league play, and they’re all alone in 1st place in the league standings. They’re one of four undefeated teams left in the nation.
The bad news is: Michigan has a tough stretch of schedule coming up, starting this week. Maybe it’s not bad news, maybe it’s an opportunity to knock off some of the other good teams in the Big Ten.
At this point, Michigan is playing as well as they did last season in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, when they knocked off two Top-10 teams in two days. We shall see if they can keep it up.
This week, Michigan plays two games, one at home and one on the road. On Tuesday (01/12/2021, 7:00 p.m., ESPN), they play at home vs. (#8) Wisconsin, then on Saturday (01/16/2021, 2:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2), they play at (#16) Minnesota.
Wisconsin is currently 10-2 (4-1 in Big Ten). They beat (#23) Louisville in non-conference play, and so far have beaten (#12) Michigan State and (#21) Minnesota, and lost to Maryland. They have a couple star players on their roster, and a lot of height (two 7-footers and a 6’11” guy). This will be Michigan’s toughest game so far.
Didn’t we just play Minnesota last week? Yup, and we’re playing them again this week. The Big Ten comes up with some wild schedules. Anyway, Minnesota is currently 10-4 (3-4 in Big Ten). Since they lost to Michigan (82-57), they have also lost to (#5) Iowa (86-71). Michigan matched up very well against Minnesota last game, and they should be able to handle them again, but it’s tough to win on the road.
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