What a week it was for the Michigan Wolverines in the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis. They closed it out with the championship on Friday afternoon in a win over No. 8 Gonzaga by a score of 82-64.
The win was Michigan’s second over a top ten team in as many days. After this week, the Wolverines will be unranked no more, and potentially among the top teams in the country when the AP poll is released.
The Wolverines shot 54 percent on the afternoon and were 12-for-23 from three-point range. Gonzaga was held to only 40 percent shooting in the contest.
Isaiah Livers led Michigan in scoring with 21 points, while Jon Teske had one of his best games of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Eli Brooks was the only starter for Michigan that did not score in double figures after finishing with eight points.
For the third game in a row, the Wolverines got off to a bit of a slow start with the Zags getting out to a 12-7 lead around the 13 minute mark of the first half. After then, Michigan would never trail in this game and took a 36-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Gonzaga came out of the locker room and trimmed the deficit down to two points at 38-36 in favor of the Wolverines, but Michigan hit another gear down the stretch and led by as much as 21 points before eventually finishing the game with the 18 point victory.
- This team will not only be ranked when the poll comes out on Monday, but there’s a good chance they are somewhere in the top ten and potentially even in the top five. Rankings this time of year can be very fluid, but after three Tier A wins in three days in dominant fashion, the Wolverines have earned the shot to be considered among the best teams in college basketball. There is still a ton of basketball to play, but this is starting to resemble a team that can not only get into the tournament, but make some noise and play themselves into the second weekend with a chance to do something special.
- Zavier Simpson was outstanding in this tournament after struggling in the early part of the game on Wednesday against Iowa State. He finished Friday’s win with 13 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and only two turnovers. The ceiling of this team will be determined by how the pieces around him perform, but he is distributing the ball about as well as he ever has and now he’s going left for layups, as well. What a showing this week for him.
- Jon Teske was his dominant self on Friday and if people out there want to start hyping him as an NBA prospect, I’m all for it. He had another double-double on Friday and also had four blocks in the game. If Simpson is the brains, Teske is the heart of this basketball team and Howard’s coaching is helping him take yet another leap forward as a player in his senior season.
- I come out of this week impressed with Franz Wagner, even if the production was not always there. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Michigan’s three best performances of the season came with him suited up and healthy and he shows the raw potential that was promised ahead of his freshman season. There are times out there where he’s going to look like the young player that he is and he will need some time to physically develop, but he is looking more and more comfortable with each possession.
- David DeJulius is just about all you can ask for right now in a sixth man off the bench. He had nine points on the afternoon, all from beyond the arc. Michigan has not always been able to go to the bench for shooting in the past but now they have that luxury in DeJulius and even Adrien Nunez, who was knocked to the bench after Wagner returned to the lineup.
- Michigan basketball is good, and perhaps further along than we ever could have expected at this point. That speaks to the job Howard and his coaching staff have done in getting this team to buy in. They are having a blast out there and never was that more apparent than during the postgame festivities in the Bahamas.
EASY JUWAN THERE ARE KIDS WATCHING pic.twitter.com/T4kkKpmww3— Maize n Beat Ohio State (@MaizenBrew) November 29, 2019
Next up for Michigan is a showdown with Louisville on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Cardinals are expected to potentially be named the No. 1 team in the country when the AP Poll comes out on Monday. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m.