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Michigan Wolverines

Dominant defense leads to top-10 ranking

After two impressive wins over Villanova and Providence last week, Michigan basketball surged into the top 10 of both polls thanks to an elite defense.

The Michigan basketball team is playing about as well as any team in the country right now,  especially on the defensive end of the floor.

In two games against teams that made the NCAA tournament a season ago last week, Villanova and Providence, Michigan basketball held both teams to 47 points or less. The game with Providence was on a neutral floor Sunday. Yet, the win over Villanova came on the road in Philadelphia in a National Championship game rematch.

Following the win over Villanova, Michigan took part in the Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off. The Wolverines beat down George Washington Saturday and then limited Providence to 31 percent shooting Sunday to win the championship.

Those victories, which pushed the Wolverines to 5-0 on the season, also got Michigan into the top 10 of both the AP and coaches poll. UM ranks eighth in the coaches poll and ninth the AP poll. That’s a 10-spot improvement in the AP poll and one that is completely warranted.

Obviously, the win over Villanova looks less impressive once Furman knocked off the Wildcats last weekend, but still, the way Michigan basketball is beating teams is no joke.

And while there may be some debate about who has the best defense in college basketball, according to the Kenpom rankings, the Wolverines have the most efficient defense in the country. In terms of raw numbers, UM is also limiting opponents to 47 points per game, which ranks fifth in the country.

However, Michigan ranks highly in more categories than just points allowed. The Wolverines are also ninth in field goal percentage allowed, as teams are shooting just 32 percent from the field. Opponents are also making just 24 percent of their 3-point attempts, which is 24th nationally. Also behind the play of Jon Teske inside, Michigan is ninth in the nation in blocks.

Certainly, the offense is starting to come along. Charles Matthews has played really well averaging 15.8 PPG and right behind him is Ignas Brazdeikis, a freshman who is scoring 14.8 PPG.

Next: Top 15 Michigan quarterbacks of all time

But the biggest reason Michigan basketball is now a top-10 team is the defense. It’s also why the Wolverines look like contenders to win their first Big Ten championship since 2014.



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