The Michigan Wolverines moved to 3-0 on the young season with a 84-65 victory over Ball State of the Mid-American Conference on Wednesday night at Crisler. Isaiah Livers led the way in scoring with 21 points, while Franz Wagner chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds.
Michigan led by as many as 20 points in the first half, but some lapses in the final five minutes led to a 19-6 scoring run by Ball State to cut the halftime deficit down to 40-33 in favor of the Wolverines. Despite that, it never felt like it was that close and Michigan would put its foot back on the gas in the second half and win this one going away.
Here are a few quick observations from the game.
Hunter Dickinson is this team’s center
One game is a nice performance. Two games is a trend. Three-games illustrates a point. The point here being that Hunter Dickinson (12 points, 11 rebounds in 22 minutes) should be this team’s starting center moving forward. Michigan has a lot they can do with different lineup combinations, but Dickinson has proven to be more than just the future of this program at center. He is the present and it appears he is only going to get better as the game continues to slow down and he physically develops even more.
Austin Davis is still a guy that can come in and give you 10-15 really strong minutes per night, but the first five minutes of each half probably is to last much longer. He knows this and will play whatever role is asked of him. He is still an important piece for this group moving forward.
Good Franz was back
After struggling in the first few games of the year, Franz Wagner made his presence known early in this game and looked like his normal self. There was a point in the second half where he went down injured, but would come back into the game somewhat quickly after walking it off.
His play might ultimately determine how high the ceiling of this group ultimately is. They go into a different gear when he is locked in and he’s on a team this year that has options all over the floor. He is still very much a work in progress, but you see the fruits of his labor coming into play and he may not even fully realize how good he can be yet. Though, a Wagner has never lacked confidence.
Still lapses defensively, but better on Wednesday
Hot take: This team is not going to lean on its defense. Now, they played much better on Wednesday night and it helps when a team does hit very difficult shots like they tend to do in Crisler, defense be damned.
The run that Ball State went on at the end of the first half was concerning, but such is life in college basketball. I don’t see this being an elite defensive team, but still believe they have KenPom top-25 potential on that side of the floor.
Next up for Michigan is another non-conference showdown on Sunday against visiting UCF at Crisler Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.