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Discussion: How we’re feeling about Michigan men’s and women’s basketball

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Now that they’re front and center again, how are we feeling about the two programs?

NCAA Womens Basketball: Michigan at Baylor David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a week since Michigan football appeared in the Orange Bowl in a 34-11 loss to Georgia and concluded its storied 2021 season. Team 142 pulled off quite a feat this year, giving a much needed injection of success to their fanbase. There was fun and excitement all fall for the Maize and Blue faithful as they watched their team defeat Ohio State and win the Big Ten on the way to finishing 12-2 . While the ending wasn’t what a lot of us had hoped for, there is a lot to be said about what this team accomplished this year.

While we will look towards the future of Michigan football, with the NFL Draft and offseason changes heading our way, we also get to shift our focus to some of the other sports at Michigan. Just last year, the men’s and women’s basketball teams reached the Sweet Sixteen during the NCAA Tournament, the first time ever for the women’s team.

However, this season the men’s basketball team has been lackluster in comparison to recent years. The women’s team, on the other hand, has been performing above and beyond, defeating then ranked No. 5 Baylor in a rematch of last year’s Sweet Sixteen.

It’s difficult grappling with the success last year’s men’s basketball team brought and now questioning whether or not this team can make the NCAA Tournament. The tournament is still theoretically within their capabilities, but nothing this season has proven that to be realistic. Juwan Howard brought in an elite group of talent, and most of us expected things to continue to improve for the Wolverines, but there hasn’t been a payoff. It feels like for a lot of us, we have already had our moment of clarity and reckoned with how this season might end.

What do you think this team’s potential is? Do you think it is too early to tell or have you seen enough to accept this team might not be what we initially predicted in the preseason?

The Wolverines start the new year 7-6. The upcoming game against Purdue remains up in the air as the Wolverines are still dealing with health issues. If they return to full strength, how do you think they will fare in their first ranked game? What do you hope to see from them? How do you think they will fare in the month of January?

The schedule might be a tall order, but hopefully things start working out for the Maize and Blue and they can cobble together a few wins in this stretch of the schedule.

On the flipside, the women’s basketball team has emerged as a frontrunner to win the Big Ten. If you haven’t been watching this team, consider this introduction to be your sign to start. After an impressive top-five win against Baylor a few weeks ago, the Wolverines have been a staple top-10 team in the AP. They are certainly making a name for themselves this season and the recognition is well deserved. Michigan is currently at No. 8.

Naz Hillmon has been leading the way for the women’s team this season, picking up where she left off last season and is averaging more than 20 points and 9nine rebounds per game. She was on several preseason watchlists for National Player of the Year and hasn’t backed down to the high expectations. But one player does not make a full team, as was evident when Michigan took Baylor to overtime and won despite Hillmon fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Leigha Brown scored the basket that put Michigan ahead of Baylor for the final time and netted a team high 25 points. This team is built for success and a potential deep run in the tournament.

Despite a loss to Nebraska a few days ago, the Maize and Blue return home to host Rutgers Sunday afternoon. The Wolverines are currently 12-2 on the season with a 3-1 record in conference play and 3-1 record against opponents ranked in the Top-25. Michigan currently has a seven-game winning streak at home and look to extend that come Sunday. They face their own fair share of tough opponents, facing off with two top 10 teams in Maryland and Indiana, while Ohio State will seek to avenge their loss to Michigan earlier this season. The Wolverines defeated the Buckeyes by 18 points on New Year’s Eve and a season sweep of OSU will only sweeten the deal for Michigan fans.

The women’s team is off to an incredible start this season. How do you think they will fare moving forward?

There’s a lot of basketball left to go and Michigan knows how to pack a punch. If the men’s team can right themselves and get some consistency, they have the chance to turn their season around. The women’s team is going for glory, already making history as a unit after getting the program’s first ever win against a top-five opponent. They are contenders this year in the tournament should they continue their current trajectory.

What are you most excited about for Michigan basketball in the new year? Who has been performing the most impressively to you so far this season? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Michigan women’s basketball hosts the Nebraska Cornhuskers today at noon.