As we are getting into the grit and grind of the college basketball season, there are only three undefeated teams in the AP Top 25. You have the number one team in the country with the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The number two team in the country with the Baylor Bears. Then you have the most surprising team in the nation with the number seven ranked Michigan Wolverines. Both Baylor and Gonzaga have been ranked in the top five since the beginning of the season, compared to Michigan who wasn’t even ranked to begin the season. Through this article, I’m going to tell you why Michigan Basketball is a force to be reckoned with.
Coming into the season, I thought Michigan basketball was going to be in trouble. Michigan lost both of their senior leaders in Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske. Not only did they lose these two but they lost their top two recruits who were both in the top 15 in the ESPN 100. Josh Christopher, who was number 11 in the country, decided to decommit to Michigan and commit to Arizona State. Isaiah Todd, who was number 15 in the country, decided to decommit from Michigan and sign with the G-league to pursue his professional career. I’m sure these two are punching air right now after they see what Michigan is able to do without them.
Even with the losses and the decommits, Michigan surprisingly still brought in some talent. One of them has became the best player on the team. This is Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson is a 7’1” freshman from Alexandria, Virginia. Dickinson has not only shown himself to be one of the best freshman but one of the overall best players in the country. The freshman is averaging 17.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He has already won the “Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week” four times in the fist six weeks of the season. ESPN has also ranked Dickinson as the fifth best player in the country at the moment. All that being said, this kid can ball.
Michigan has also grabbed two graduate transfers this offseason. They needed someone to fill in the role of point guard, Zavier Simpson and they found it in the form of Mike Smith. Smith, senior graduate transfer from Columbia, has averaged 9.2 points, 5.4 assists and shot an outstanding 46.2-percent from downtown. The other grad transfer is sixth man, Chaundee Brown, from Wake Forest. He has been the lightning spark that the Wolverines have needed off the bench. He’s averaged 9.0 points while shooting 39-percent from downtown.
With Teske and Simpson leaving, I still think that Michigan’ “glue guy” has stayed in Ann Arbor. This man is senior, Isaiah Livers. Livers is all around of the mot complete players in the country. Livers is averaging 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and a block through 11 games. No one on this team wants to win more than this guy. There is also sophomore, Franz Wagner, brother of former Wolverine and current Washington Wizard, Moe Wagner. Wagner is probably the best NBA prospect out of the bunch and probably the best overall scorer. Franz is averaging 12.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. These two are going to be the most important to the team down the stretch. If they stay healthy, Michigan has a good chance to make a huge run in the tournament.
I give a lot of credit to former “Fab Five” member and head coach Juwan Howard for bringing this team together through the difficult times of Covid-19. He’s brought his team to an undefeated record so far in arguably the best conference in college basketball. Howard has Michigan shooting 52.4-percent from the field which is seventh best in the country. Not only does Coach Howard have them playing great offensively but he also had Michigan’s opponents only shooting 36.8-percent from the floor, which is eighth in the nation.
This team is playing all-around some of the best basketball in the country. They aren’t just playing the best basketball this year but they’re breaking all-time college basketball records. After they beat number nine ranked Wisconsin 77-54 they broke a new record. According to ESPN, Michigan Basketball is the first team ever to beat three ranked teams in a row by 19 points or more.
Even after starting 11-0, they still aren’t the favorite or the best team in the Big Ten to most. Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes are still considered to be the team to beat. The Wolverines are just too good on both sides of the ball. Michigan basketball is a force to be reckoned with. This isn’t just a one year mirage, either. Coach Howard is bringing in the number one recruiting class in the nation next year. Look for Michigan Basketball to be on top of the Big Ten for seasons to come.