There are 351 schools in college basketball, and only two remain undefeated — Michigan and Virginia.
On top of that, last night’s 80-60 victory over Northwestern improved U-M’s record to 17-0, which marked the best start to a season in school history.
While head coach John Beilein is obviously proud of his club so far, he had no interest in dwelling on the accomplishment tonight on the Inside Michigan Basketball radio show from the Pizza House in Ann Arbor.
“It’s something nobody can never take away from the guys on this team,” he insisted. “We’re not measuring our success that way though.”
Beilein has made it clear that success at Michigan is calculated through championships, and the Wolverines are right in the thick of the race for the Big Ten title.
At 6-0 in league play, they are tied with MSU for the best record in the conference, and will look to keep that perfect record alive on Saturday when they head to Wisconsin.
The Badgers began the year 10-2, but have since lost three of their last four games.
“We did a little work today for Wisconsin to get the scout team going,” Beilein revealed. “It’ll be light tomorrow and Wednesday will be a day off.
“When we won there last year, they were incredibly young and were missing [redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik] Trice to injury. They went 15-18 last year, but brought back their top seven scorers.”
Northwestern, on the other hand, was without its leading scorer — fifth-year senior forward Vic Law — on Sunday night at Crisler Center.
Law’s — who is averaging 17.3 points per game and 6.5 boards — absence was felt, as the Wolverines raced out to a 50-28 halftime lead and all but had the game wrapped up when they headed into the locker rooms.
Beilein never felt comfortable though.
“We were up 10 late last night, but 10 is nothing,” he exclaimed. “I get comfortable when we’re up by 28 with three minutes to go.
“Once [junior guard] Zavier [Simpson] started making threes is when we gained some separation. Both [junior center] Jon [Teske] and Zavier are growing in their shooting stats in practice — it’s not like a rocket ship taking off quickly, but more like a plane.
“They have both mine and their own permission to keep shooting it — you can’t doubt yourself, and you have to dream big. We don’t want to have a ceiling over them.
“People go into shooting slumps because their habits change from practicing too much. When you watch someone’s shots over and over, you get an eye for what they’re doing — we want the guys to understand their own shots and self correct.
“We do a four-minute shooting component every day. They sat in chairs today and did a shooting drill, and we wanted to see great spin and quick hands — we call it reading the map.
“Zavier has worked with visualization, and there’s a confidence that grows from volume and seeing the ball go in. Phil Jackson first started talking about visualization, and I use for myself to focus, settle down and realize what’s important.
“Our [Beilein’s and Simpson’s] relationship grows and we continue to understand each other — I have so much respect for him because he doesn’t take plays or practices off, and is all about how he can help the team.”
While Simpson has an aggressive nature — at least from a leadership and defensive standpoint — on the court, the same cannot be said for Teske.
He has improved immensely during his three years at Michigan, but Beilein admitted he can still get substantially better.
“We’re not allowed to call him Big Sleep anymore, because he needs to dream big and be a better player than he is,” the head man said. “He’s too talented for that. He needs to be more engaged out there, because I know he has it in him.”