How They Are Doing So Far:
Michigan is off to an amazing start. They are sitting at 17-0, which is the best start in Wolverines history. It also ties the longest winning streak in program history. They will look to break that record on Saturday in Madison. Michigan has not had the toughest schedule, but wins over Villanova, North Carolina, Purdue and Indiana are certainly very good wins. But this is a team that has already played Northwestern twice and beaten Penn State and Illinois. The schedule is about to get tougher and starts right now.
Last Time Out:
Michigan had a much easier time against Northwestern at home on Sunday then they did on the road back in early December. This time they crushed the Wildcats 80-60 and the result was never in doubt after a late first half spurt gave Michigan a 50-28 halftime lead. Zavier Simpson scored a season high 24 points and went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. Simpson is generally known for his strong defense and solid passing, so anything he can provide offensively is a huge bonus. Jon Teske, a 7-1 center, added 17 points and 11 rebounds and recorded his second straight double-double.
Who To Watch:
Michigan can hit you from anywhere offensively. Six players average at least 8.0 points per game, but it is usually Ignas Brazdeikis who leads the way. Through 17 games the 6-7 freshman forward is averaging a team high 15.6 points and is living up to the hype. He can score from anywhere on the floor and is shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. Brazdeikis will not shoot too much from long range and has made just 20 three-pointers this season, but his ability to stretch the defense is a must for Coach John Beilein. That is what Michigan does and Wisconsin will have to be able to defend big guys on the perimeter.
Who Else To Watch:
Zavier Simpson has been pouring in the points lately, but it is usually Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole who do most of the scoring from the backcourt. Matthews averages 14.1 points per game and has had some very good outings. He has also disappeared at times. Matthews is shooting just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc and when his shot is not falling, Matthews will have an off night. He needs to be more aggressive attacking the basket, like he was against Western Michigan when he made 16 trips to the free-throw line, if his shot is not falling. Poole is the team’s most prolific three-point shooter. After a slow start to his sophomore season, Poole reeled off 11 straight double-digit scoring efforts until he score just seven points against Northwestern on Sunday.
It is never easy to play at Wisconsin. Many times a highly ranked team has gone to Madison and come away with a loss. Michigan could be the next in line. If D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison are knocking down shots and Ethan Happ is a force on both ends of the floor, Michigan will be seriously tested. Michigan though has proven time and time again that they can get production from everybody in their regular rotation. It might be Charles Matthews or it could be Jon Teske or Zavier Simpson, but somebody will make the big shots for Michigan.