Among all the preseason tournaments in college basketball, the Hall of Fame Tip Off Tournament did not have the most loaded lineup. Nevertheless, Michigan did what was asked of them in Connecticut, winning back-to-back games by a combined 42 points. Neither victory will move the needle too much, but there is not much to complain about from the weekend.
George Washington is not a good team and did not look like one. Despite keeping it close for a half, the Colonials were clearly outmatched on both ends of the floor, giving up 1.21 points per possession to the Wolverines. Providence is a better squad and could end up as a Quadrant 2 win for Michigan, but they too were overpowered. Five games into the year, this team is away and clicking.
A glimpse of the good ole days
Back when defense was more or less optional, Michigan survived by bombing opponents relentlessly from behind the arc. Given the team’s performance last season and the start to this year, it is clear that those days are probably gone. Thankfully, the Wolverines have found other ways to win, and not having to rely on the three is probably a good thing overall.
Still, it was nice to be reminded of what this team can do from deep. Against George Washington, Michigan logged season-highs in three-point attempts, makes and accuracy, hitting 15 of its 30 shots. This nearly totaled the number of two-point attempts, and four different Wolverines made multiple threes. This is more of an outlier than the norm, but an important reminder of what this offense can do at times.
Locking up the Friars
Providence entered Sunday averaging 1.12 points per possession; against Michigan, they managed just 0.74. The Wolverines continue to smother opposing offenses by challenging them to beat their man one-on-one and daring teams to beat them from outside. The Friars were 2-of-18 from three and posted an effective field goal rate of 29.8 percent, the lowest by a Michigan opponent so far.
The one area where Providence did manage to play well was on the glass, but other than rebounding, the Maize and Blue again was excellent on defense. All five starters have a Defensive Rating of 77 or better on the season, which is unsustainable yet indicative of just how dominant the start to the year has been.
Sharing the love
Sometimes it just works out perfectly.
Aside from Eli Brooks, every Michigan rotation player hit double-digit points in at least one of the two weekend games. Perhaps the most encouraging performance was from Jordan Poole, who went 5-for-8 behind the arc against George Washington on 79 percent effective shooting. Or maybe it was Jon Teske, who recorded a career-high 19 points against Providence, a team who was not afraid to play tough inside.
Ignas Brazdeikis had another strong two games and his usage still leads the team. He clearly is a go-to player on offense, and looks impressive driving to the hoop. However, do not count out Charles Matthews. The veteran is leading the team in scoring and acting as an emotional leader for the team right now. While the composition of the offense has moved away from the long ball, it is a lot of fun watching the Wolverines violently attack the rim.