The Michigan Wolverines ended the 2020 portion of the schedule with a bang, walking out of Maryland with an 84-73 win to move to 3-0 in Big Ten play and 8-0 on the season.
Hunter Dickinson — who earlier this week said that this was a bit of a revenge game for him being from Maryland and not being recruited by the Terrapins —led the way with a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. Franz Wagner had another strong showing with 19 points.
Here are a few quick takeaways from the victory.
Dickinson said this one was a bit personal and you could see it in his eyes. Every time he scored a basket, his gaze would immediately go to Maryland’s bench and Mark Turgeon after failing to show interest in him as a recruit. What we are seeing right now is the emergence of Michigan’s best center since Juwan Howard was a player at Michigan. He is that good, that ready, and that special. As the lights get brighter, so has his game and he is going to be arguably the most critical piece to the puzzle moving forward for this time. You can make the argument he is their most complete, and potentially best, player.
Mike Smith continues to shine
Smith continues to shine and play efficient basketball, finishing the night with 16 points, six assists, and six rebounds. There might be times where he struggles on the defensive end against stiffer competition, but this was a near-perfect performance. Howard said after the game that Smith is “reinventing himself” and that once he walked on to campus he was no longer the lead dog like he was at Columbia. Now, he is the quarterback for a team that looks like it has potential championship aspirations. His growth has been a ton of fun to watch.
This team is to be feared and is for real
Michigan shot up to No. 11 on KenPom in the aftermath of the game and that checks out to what my eyeballs are seeing. I think that this is one of the ten best teams in college basketball with another gear still to be found as they continue to grow and evolve into what they will ultimately be. Nobody else in the Big Ten has the depth that they have and they now appear to have two legitimate stars in Wagner and Dickinson with a number of complimentary pieces that would be stars on other teams in the conference. This was a heck of a way to end the pre-2021 portion of the schedule and there's nowhere to go but up. The rest of the Big Ten is on notice.
Next up for Michigan is a return home for the first time in a few weeks with a home game on Sunday against Northwestern.