Last night’s 84-67 demolition of No. 11 North Carolina was not just a thorough victory over a blue-blood.
It was a nationally-televised highlight reel of what Michigan can do to the best in college basketball. Combined with Villanova two weeks ago, this year’s Wolverines have routed the last two national champions by a combined 44 points.
These are the top sequences from another signature night for the program.
Zavier Simpson swipes a steal, ends a UNC run
The Tar Heels started off hot, looking just like they did last year in Chapel Hill.
Behind 13th-year senior Luke Maye’s early seven points, they raced out to a 21-11 lead. They connected on 9-of-13 shots in the first eight minutes against the nation’s No. 2 effective field goal defense.
After a miss, UNC looked like it was out on another fast break. Lo and behold, Zavier Simpson swiped a steal for an easy layup at the other end. It stemmed the tide, catalyzing a 17-2 run fueled also by pin-point shooting...
Three 3-point plays retake the lead in first half
Honestly, every Top Plays segment could be an Ignas Brazdeikis sizzle reel. Through seven games, he’s reached double figures six times, including 20-point plus outputs in the last three.
On the biggest stage of his young career, with his team needing a boost, he took over. First, he torched former top-100 player Leaky Black off the dribble for an and-one opportunity (converted). Next, a Teske pick-and-roll draws too many defenders, leaving the Canadian freshman wide-open for three.
Eli Brooks added a trey for good measure, giving the Wolverines their first lead. Brazdeikis would end up leading all scorers with 24 points on just 13 shots.
Simpson facilitates surge at end of first half
Just like earlier, Simpson came through in the clutch. Despite just five points on four shots, he orchestrated a masterful night of offense with his ball-handling and passing.
Roy Williams deployed half-court trap pressure at various points, which requires excellent handles. Simpson demonstrates just that, splitting three defenders bum-rushing him at mid-court. He then dishes a dime to Brooks, who rotates it to Charles Matthews for a trey and a one-point lead.
After a loose ball tussle, Simpson secures the ball and finds Brooks again in the corner. This time the sophomore guard buries the bomb to head into the locker room up four.
Simpson finished with six assists, pushing him No. 34 nationally in assist rate.
Second-half D fuels blowout, electrifies crowd
The Wolverines traded punches with the visitors on offense in the first half. The second half would be determined by the side that locked down on defense.
Enter Jon Teske and Matthews.
Teske swatted away five shots, and Matthews came from behind to send another into the second deck. With Jordan Poole heating up (more on that in a second), UNC had no chance to keep up.
Also, look at assistant coach Saddi Washington dropping his jaw at the 0:15 second mark. This also was one of many sequences that got Crisler rocking to 100-plus decibels.
Poole adds another weapon to Beilein’s arsenal
Prior to Wednesday night, fans had been waiting for Poole to erupt. His 22-point season high was against 1-6 George Washington, and he had failed to reach double-digits in four of the other five contests.
He showed up in primetime. While 5-for-8 from behind the arc, this wasn’t just a shooting exhibition. He utilized his deadly jab step to create enough space for one to boost the lead to 44-37.
He later buried a spot-up bomb, and then followed that with an array of dekes and spins to the basket against senior Cameron Johnson.
The final act? A late-clock heave step-back prayer from just in front of the mid-court logo. He again creates space, while also getting a clean look with his quick release.
Beilein already had two scorers producing with Matthews and Brazdeikis. Contributions from Simpson, Teske and the bench had lifted the offense to the a top-25 efficiency mark.
After Poole’s 18 points, the ceiling is higher. This team has a chance to combine a top-rated defense with the typical “Death from Above” Beilein offense.
Look out, America.