Opinion Roundtable: Can Michigan Basketball Win Out?
Don't look now, but Michigan basketball has won four road games in a row, five overall games in a row and seven of its last games period. The Wolverines are getting hot at the right time and now have just four regular season games remaining.
It starts tomorrow with a home game against Wisconsin, followed by a road game in Columbus on March 1. The Wolverines will return home to take on Nebraska on March 5 and will close out the regular season in College Park against Maryland on March 8.
So the question is, can Michigan win these next four games to close out the regular season?
I actually think winning out is possible. I expect the Wolverines to win both home games, which shouldn't be surprising, but I see U-M rolling in those two contests. The road games at Ohio State and Maryland would probably be voted two of the tougher tasks in the conference right now, but Michigan has figured it out on the road a bit. With Isaiah Livers back in the lineup, Michigan's defense is significantly better and that usually shows up regardless of venue. On offense, Livers also makes U-M really, really tough to guard as several opposing coaches have stated since his return. If Michigan can win out, they'll finish the year in the top 10 and will likely be a 5-see at worst. That would be an incredible finish for Juwan Howard in year one and give U-M a ton of momentum heading into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
The saying “defense travels” applies here. When you’re defending the way the Wolverines are, there’s no such thing as an unwinnable game. There are no gimmes in the Big Ten this season, but Michigan doesn’t face an opponent down the stretch that can tax its defense by putting a trio of scorers on the floor who can get their own shot. Therefore, it comes down to how well Michigan shoots it in road games at Ohio State and Maryland. The Wolverines absolutely can win out, but the odds aren’t high that they will.
Yes and no. As hot as the Wolverines are, and with junior Isaiah Livers back to full health (for now), there is no one on this schedule that Michigan can't beat. Part of that is just the nature of the Big Ten. Maryland has lost to Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State - all teams rated lower than U-M in the Kenpom rankings - while Ohio State has dropped games to teams like Minnesota and Indiana that are in the 30s of the Kenpom (Michigan is 10th). However, the Terrapins are undefeated at home this season and the Buckeyes have won 5 of 6 at home (including beating Maryland last weekend) and are 14-2 at home overall this year. The Maize and Blue have to go on the road to both places in their final four games.
Michigan has won four straight on the road and has confidence playing away from home, but OSU and Maryland are two of the most talented teams in the league. If U-M gets one of these two, and wins its two home games over Wisconsin and Nebraska, consider it a giant victory for the Wolverines. In fact, if they go 3-1, the Maize and Blue would likely head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament an NCAA 5-seed with the chance to move up even higher.
How do you see each game going? Can Michigan win all four? Comment below!!!