For the second straight year, Michigan has won four games in four days to become Big 10 champions. Now back-to-back champions, last year was more surprising, but this year was not really expected. Last year this team won the Big 10 tournament, then proceeded to go to the Sweet 16 as an unlikely Cinderella team. So what is in store for the Wolverines this year?
While Mortiz Wagner seems to be Michigan’s best player, this team does not rely solely on him to carry them. It is a well-balanced team that has several guys that can lead the way. Other players like Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews and Duncan Robinson average at least 9.6 PPG. While this team doesn’t light up the scoreboard, they are very efficient on offense when it comes to FG% and consistent with points per game. The main reason I like this team to make a big run is they are very offensively disciplined and do not turn it over a lot. They are 7th in the nation is Ast-TO ratio at 1.62 and only average 9.1 turnovers per game–which is 2nd in the nation.
Getting Hot At The Right Time
Picking teams to do well in March Madness is pretty much trying to pick the winning lottery numbers. While that holds true, it seems that picking a team who enters the tournament hot is usually more successful. That team is Michigan. Winning nine in a row and 11 of 12, this team is lava hot right now. Offensively, the 3 pointer is starting to fall a little more as they have been shooting 39.1% during the winning streak–36.9% for the season. Defensively, they have been significantly better guarding the 3 pointer considering teams were shooting 33.8% during the season, but during this winning streak they have only allowed teams to shoot 29.7% from deep. In the last two games against Michigan State and Purdue–both in the Top 5 in 3 point percentage–the teams shot a combined 11-42, which is only about 26%.
When I pick teams, I like to pick teams who are consistent on offense, take care of the basketball, and are a very good defensive team. Michigan fits all those descriptions at this point in the season. They aren’t very flashy and they don’t do any one thing particularly amazingly. However, they do a lot of things very well and are getting hot right before the tournament. I believed in this team last year to make some noise in the tournament, and I believe in them to do the same thing again this year as well, except they will end up much farther in the tournament than the year before.