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Michigan Drubs Minnesota By 25, Moves To 10-0

Another Top 20 opponent, and another beatdown at the Crisler Center for the undefeated Michigan Wolverines.

This past Sunday, the Wolverines dominated No. 19 Northwestern by a score of 85-66. Tonight, Michigan followed that up with a heck of an encore, drubbing No. 16 Minnesota to the tune of 82-57.

Both teams struggled to score in the early proceedings, as the defensive intensity on both ends didn’t yield many easy baskets for either squad.

The Wolverines were limited in their success from the three-point arc, hitting just 2-of-7 attempts in the opening half. With outside shot not falling, Michigan increased their aggressiveness, getting in the lane and setting up freshman Hunter Dickinson for easy baskets off dribble penetration.

The Wolverines also benefited from their defense, with Isaiah Livers scoring on a pair of fastbreak dunks off Minnesota turnovers to get the Wolverines rolling on offense.

Leading 17-15 with seven and a half minutes remaining in the half, Michigan went on a 13-1 run to stretch their lead to 30-18, their biggest of the opening period. The Gophers counterpunched with an 8-2 run of their own to end the half.

Michigan led 32-26 at the break.

Out of the locker room, the Wolverines seized momentum once again, outscoring Minnesota 17-4 to start the second half. They didn’t relinquish it for the remainder of the contest, dominating the Golden Gophers in all aspects. Michigan’s biggest lead was an unbelievable 37 points, 71-34, with 7:56 left in the game.

For the second time this week, head coach Juwan Howard had the luxury of emptying his bench to end the game.

1. Two Top 20 opponents, two beatdowns

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Michigan started the year ranked, but fell out of the rankings after Oakland took them to overtime in the second game of the season. Since then, the Wolverines have seemingly had to regain respect from around the country. Following this result, there should be no more questions about whether Michigan is for real. This week, the Wolverines welcomed two Top 20 teams into their building, and led both opponents by 29 or more points at some point in the midst of the action. The Wolverines’ schedule may have been light early on, and they have benefited from 8 of their first 10 games coming at home, but Michigan has answered its doubters with the performances it put on this week.

2. Hunter Dickinson…just wow…

Man, I’m running out of things to say about Hunter Dickinson. He was impressive coming off the bench to start the season, he was dynamic as a starter replacing an injured Austin Davis, and he just dominated a 7-foot opposing center in Minnesota’s Liam Robbins. Dickinson scored 28 points on a ridiculous 12-of-15 shooting performance. He added 8 rebounds. The freshman held his own on the defensive end as well, limiting Robbins to just 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting. Dickinson is right at home in this conference. The increase in competition has done nothing to slow him down. You’re looking at the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

3. Wolverines lock it up on defense

I’m having a hard time remembering a Michigan team that was this good on both ends of the floor. The Wolverines were dialed in defensively all night long, and took it to another level in the second half. The Gophers scored just eight points in the first 12 minutes following halftime. Michigan continued to contest shots at the rim despite leading by 30. That’s complete buy-in from this roster. In addition, the Wolverines locked up the third-leading scorer in the Big Ten – Marcus Carr. The junior entered this game averaging 22 points per game, and shooting nearly 45 percent from the floor. Against Michigan, Carr was limited to 14 points and he was just 5-of-16 from the floor. The Wolverines’ are defending at an elite level right now, and that bodes well with Big Ten road games on the horizon.

4. Livers, Wagner score in double figures

It was nice to see Isaiah Livers get his groove back offensively. He’s still struggling from the three-point line (1-of-5 tonight), but he hit a couple tough mid-range jumpers, and was active on defense leading to a couple breakaway dunks. Livers finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while adding 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Meanwhile, Franz Wagner took on a bit of a reduced role offensively tonight, but played very well nonetheless. Wagner once again brought incredible energy defensively, with two more blocks tonight after swatting five shots against Northwestern. The sophomore finished with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and pitched in 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

5. The challenges keep coming

Michigan remains undefeated, and stands alone atop the Big Ten, but tough challenges loom in the near future. The Wolverines were scheduled to travel to Penn State this coming Saturday, but the game has been postponed due to recent COVID-19 cases within the Nittany Lions’ program. That means Michigan won’t return to action until next Tuesday, when they host No. 8 Wisconsin. The Badgers will be the first Top 10 opponent the Wolverines have faced this season, and are currently sitting tied for third place in the conference standings. Michigan will then hit the road to face these same Golden Gophers, who have been a different team in their own building. Minnesota is 0-3 away from The Barn, but unbeaten at home with wins over Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. Michigan is playing great basketball right now, and they’ll need to continue that with the matchups coming up.