Michigan basketball reveals the world they can win nationwide title with blowout of Wisconsin
It comes in a rush, this Michigan basketball defense, it comes from all over, too, and if that’s all the Wolverines needed to provide, they would still be a tournament team.
However they dribble and pass and shoot, also. They get containers. Great deals of them, likewise from lots of places. And when it’s all clicking, as it was Tuesday night at Crisler Center versus Wisconsin, look out.
U-M put the college basketball world on blast, burning out the Badgers 77-54. Though ball game doesn’t begin to catch what happened.
All the Wolverines did was put a 43-3 work on Wisconsin, from late in the first half until midway through the second, frustrating among the finest teams in college basketball.
So dominating was the efficiency, so absolutely soul-snatching was the defense that when Wisconsin point guard, D’Mitrik Trice, lastly hit a corner three to cut the result in 31, Juwan Howard turned toward his bench, reduced his masked and barked.
U-M’s coach was inflamed his group missed an assignment. That must inform you whatever.
About what kind of program Howard is building, about what he anticipates from his players, about the group he has before him, a mix of transfers, a 7-foot freshman, assaulting guards and a couple of long, competent, ultra-modern wings who play both ends of the floor.
A team that couple of saw coming. At least not this.
Yet, here they are, the best-looking group in the Big 10, quickly turning into one of the very best groups in the country.
Gonzaga has the most amazing offense. Baylor may have the most bruising defense. I’m not exactly sure anybody has the sort of combination U-M does.
It begins with the wings, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner. Both can shoot, score off the bounce, get to the rim, pass, and protect. Actually defend.
The length helps. So does the anticipation. But the effort is what amazes. The very same holds true for everybody else on the team.
These Wolverines don’t just play hard, they play ferociously, and they do it from the opening pointer.
Wisconsin discovered this out Tuesday. The looked stunned. Then deflated. Then puzzled.
Trice had no place to go. Neither did Brad Davison, or Nate Reuvers, or Micah Potter, the meat of a lineup that’s skilled, smart and proficient.
That U-M sped them up and turned them over was surprising. However they did. Once again and once again. And when Wisconsin did discover open appearances, they rushed.
On the other end, there was Livers, bring up from 3 in shift, and Mike Smith, the point guard, slipping into the lane, and Wagner, who has discovered his own rate once again, pump-faking in the corner, driving the standard and dunking.
When a player discovered an excellent shot, he passed it up for a better one. Inside and out. Around the perimeter. Patiently. Forcefully.
For a group with numerous brand-new faces it’s astounding to enjoy them play as if they’ve been together for many years. Howard should have the credit, despite the fact that he likes to credit his personnel and players.
He’s always been simple by doing this. Which’s fine. However what he’s done given that he got here, what he’s developed during these tough and disorienting times is worth enjoying.
Because teams do not come along like this every year. Groups don’t develop 40-point leads versus the Badgers. They don’t follow blowouts against good teams with the dismantling that happened Tuesday night unless something is cooking.
Yes, there are still a couple of tests out there. Iowa, for one. Illinois, for another. And considering that the conference is as deep and gifted as it has actually remained in years, practically anyone may journey them up. Even the best teams need to get a fortunate bounce from time to time to survive.
There will be nights when the shots do not fall. If that happens, though, U-M will still have a possibility.
Because of its defense. Since of the display screen we saw again Tuesday night.
This isn’t a one-off. This is who these Wolverines are.
They made a declaration. Here’s wagering they have several more to make before it’s over.