If Michigan basketball is struggling to beat teams like Holy Cross, how will the Wolverines do against a team like Villanova?
While many Wolverines fans were basking in the glow of a 42-7 win on the gridiron, soon after, the Michigan basketball team got a scare from Holy Cross.
Yes, I said Holy Cross and it wasn’t just that the game was closer than expected — Michigan basketball won 57-38 — at halftime, the Wolverines were down 24-18. At home against a team that isn’t anywhere close to the top 100.
Obviously, it’s early in the season and this is a young team working through some things, but still, 57 points against Holy Cross is a big deal and it makes you wonder how the Wolverines will fare against defending national champion Villanova Wednesday.
While you knew Michigan basketball might struggle to replace the production of Moritz Wagner, Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, it was hard to conceive UM scoring just 59.5 PPG against the likes of Holy Cross and Norfolk State. After two games, Michigan ranks 310th in the NCAA in scoring.
Defensively, the Wolverines picked up right where they left off from last season and that’s a good thing. Michigan is allowing just 40.5 PPG, which is third in the country. Teams are also shooting just 30 percent from the field. But again, let’s remember that Michigan hasn’t exactly played any household names.
Michigan has the ability to be a great defensive team, maybe even better than last year because of Jon Teske being in the starting lineup. However, if the Wolverines can’t score, it’s going to be an issue, especially against elite teams like Villanova.
The Wildcats are missing players too. Yet, they are scoring 93 points a game and have some key holdovers like Phil Booth and Eric Paschall. In all, the Wildcats have six players that average more than nine points per game, so holding them to 50-60 points will be a challenge.
But at this point, that might be how Michigan basketball wins games. Charles Matthews and Ignas Brazdeikis have been the only consistent scorers. The freshman is averaging 15.5 PPG, while Matthews is right at 15 PPG following a 20-point night against Holy Cross. Iggy also scored 19 in the win and hit 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
One of the biggest concerns has to be Jordan Poole. He was supposed to be a major contributor offensively, however, in two games, he has made just one field goal and scored just six points. That will have to change if the Wolverines want to contend in the Big Ten. Zavier Simpson and Isaiah Livers will also need to help pick up the slack, along with Eli Brooks.
The bottom line is that whether this team is ready or not, they hit the road to take on the team that destroyed them in the National Championship game last season, so hopefully, they will be ready to go.
So far, the Wolverines haven’t looked the part and if their offensive woes continue Wednesday night, the game could be as ugly as it was last April.