The No. 16-ranked Michigan Wolverines (9-0, 4-0 B1G) stayed undefeated on the season on Sunday with an 85-66 win over the No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats. This was the first time in series history where both teams met as ranked opponents.
Michigan got out to a bit of a rough start with Northwestern taking an early 8-2 lead, but the Wolverines put the pedal on the gas and never looked back in this one in arguably the most complete performance of the season. Hunter Dickinson led the way in scoring with 19 points, while Franz Wagner, Eli Brooks, and Chaundee Brown had 14 apiece.
Also of note on Sunday night was that for the first time this season, families were allowed in Crisler Center to watch the team play. While still far from where we usually are, it was cool to see as we inch back to normalcy.
Here are three quick takeaways from the victory.
Fully-operational battle station on display
This was a game where Michigan’s elite depth was on display, especially on the offensive end of the floor. Five players finished in double figures and nearly everyone had a chance to shine and have a fun moment in this game. There are probably five players (Brooks, Wagner, Livers, Dickinson, Brown) who can be the “guy” on a given night. When two of them are on, Michigan will be tough to beat. When they get contributions from all of them, this team is frightening and one of the best teams in college basketball.
Also of note are the major improvements on the defensive end of the floor. Chaundee Brown’s showing out on both ends of the floor continues to impress and at this point, I would trust him guarding the castle gates in the event of an invasion. He is a tone-setter and thrives in the sixth-man role that’s been given to him.
The data trend with the last ten national champions shows that a top-15 defense mixed with a top-ten offense can have you in the mix to do something special. Coming into the night, the Wolverines ranked 34th in defensive efficiency and 7th on offense. That defensive number should continue to rise, but we’ll see how far it goes as the season moves along.
Franz continues to shine
It took a bit for Wagner to get going this season but once he arrived and put it all together, he has looked every bit the potential lottery pick that many believe is inside of him somewhere. His first-half performance in this game was arguably the best 20 minutes of basketball we have seen from him yet and he was active on both ends of the floor. A double-double and five blocks from someone listed as a “guard” on your roster is wildly impressive and if he continues to play this way, this is a team that might not have a ceiling.
A new wrinkle to Dickinson
Dickinson was having a pedestrian night by his standards with only four first-half points but exploded in the second half in a stretch that was fueled by hitting a few mid-range jump shots. He would finish the half with 15 points after the halftime break.
The jumper was an aspect of his game we saw in high school, but have not seen much of it this season because he has been so good down in the post. He has passed just about every test so far this season, but if he starts to stretch the floor consistently, it just adds another layer to a team that is starting to look like it might not have a true Achilles heel.
Next up for Michigan is another home date on Wednesday with visiting Minnesota. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast via Big Ten Network.