Here's What I'm Thinking...Michigan Basketball Moving Forward
When it comes to the rest of Michigan's basketball season, I feel like Juwan Howard looks in that picture. I really think the Wolverines are getting hot at the right time and will continue to pick up impressive wins heading into postseason play.
With Isaiah Livers back in the lineup, Michigan is 2-0. Granted, one of those wins was last night over a terrible Northwestern team, but beating anyone by 25 in their house is impressive. The other win, however, was against Michigan State in Ann Arbor. No one gave U-M much of a chance against the Spartans but with Livers back in the lineup and junior Eli Brooks doing a great job on Cassius Winston, the Wolverines came away with a nine-point win.
Michigan went just 4-5 without Livers, which included home losses to both Penn State and Ohio State. With Livers back in the lineup, Michigan just feels so much more complete on both ends of the floor. Livers is averaging 15.5 points per game over the last two contests, which is solid production, but it's his presence on defense, leadership in big moments and spot in the rotation that makes U-M so much more efficient, versatile and downright scary.
I also think freshman Franz Wagner is poised to breakout down the stretch. The 6-9 swingman has scored 18 three times this year and dropped a career high 21 earlier this season against a very good Oregon team, albeit in an overtime home loss. He's getting more and more confident at putting the ball on the deck and taking it to the rim and he's still shooting the ball with confidence despite being just 3-for-13 from three-point range over his last three outings. His evolution is nowhere near complete but he's getting better and better and is arguably the toughest matchup for opponents night in and night out because of his length and ability to score from all three levels.
The broadcast team during the Northwestern game and afterward back in the studio last night kept praising the Wolverines for how they've looked over the past two games and identified them as a team that no one should want to play in the first round or two of the NCAA tournament. I can totally see a situation where Michigan gets into the dance as a seven seed, beats a 10 seed and then goes up against a beatable two seed. I say that because everyone seem beatable this year. Michigan has enough talent, length, versatility and experience to beat anyone in the country. Look no further than 25-1 Gonzaga. The latest version of Joe Lunardi's Bracketology has Louisville, Maryland, Duke and Dayton as two seeds. Those are obviously very tough matchups, but none of them seem invincible when you think about how good Michigan can be.
I think in another week we'll be talking about Michigan as a potential Sweet 16 team. It would take an expected outcome against Indiana this Sunday in Ann Arbor and an exceptional effort against Rutgers on their home court where they're a very impressive 16-0, but I think the Wolverines are good enough to win both of those games.
How do you see Michigan's next two games going? What kind of run could they have in the tournament? Comment below!!!