Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday at the freep I took a look at the questions Michigan has to answer over the last four games of the regular season.
Michigan's next four opponents all had varying levels of success against the maize and blue the first time around.
Penn State's normally terrible offense kept pace with the Wolverines in a game that should have been much more lopsided at the final buzzer. Michigan State manhandled Michigan's offense and won the battle inside decisively. Purdue hit a barrage of three-pointers early in the game and took a lead into halftime -- something not uncommon as Michigan has struggled to take control early in games. Indiana was just too overwhelming, both offensively and defensively.
It isn't just about winning the next four games, its about showing that the team has improved over the course of the season and that the Wolverines can A) exert control against inferior opponents and B) keep pace when faced with elite ones.
The Wolverines have as much talent as anyone in the country, and possibly the best player in college basketball. A first or second round loss in the NCAA tournament this year isn't going to be acceptable. If Michigan wants to make the kind of run that everyone expects, it is going to have to show in March that it can do the above four things better than it has at times this season. The next two weeks provide an good litmus test of just how capable this team is of dealing with March Madness.