It’s always fun to win against your rival. It’s especially fun to dominate against your rival.
A big win against a rival ahead of them in tournament rankings is just what the Wolverines needed to get their swagger back. They now rank 29th in KenPom, and could use the momentum from this victory to turn a few heads.
Here are a few takeaways from the win
Big Dickinson Energy
Great players show up for big games, and Michigan’s best player did exactly that by scoring a career-high 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and four blocks in what may very well be the best game of his Michigan career.
What’s even more impressive about those 33 points is none of them came from deep. Dickinson has shown massive improvements on his jump shot this season and aside from a few quick midrange shots, he got the majority of his points with patient, yet decisive moves, great post positioning and dominance around the rim.
If any basketball coaches are reading this, show your young post players these highlights. Dickinson doesn’t have a ton of flashy moves and isn’t the quickest guy, but he earns most of his baskets by sealing early and making Spartan defenders pay in the paint.
Every time Michigan State tried to make some semblance of a run, a few buckets from Dickinson would instantly swing momentum back in the Wolverines favor.
If the big man continues to dominate like this, an offense that has looked mostly stagnant all year comes alive. His post play is a big reason why the Wolverines can make a run if they get to the NCAA Tournament.
Dickinson wasn’t the only one playing well offensively
Interim head coach Phil Martelli was very complementary of assistant coach Howard Eisley, who he felt was a key reason why Michigan never took their foot off the gas. It’s pretty hard to lose when you make 61% of your shots in the first half and 58% of your shots all game.
Phil Martelli: “That was special. When you’re competing against Tom Izzo and that person, they check your fillings. For us to answer that, particularly after Illinois…tribute to them. Howard Eisley called a flawless offensive game. The only call I did was one I screwed up.”— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) March 2, 2022
This was a true team win for the Wolverines, as they dominated the Spartans all game long by using a few key runs to not let the Spartans get anything going. The dominance came on both sides of the floor, and the Wolverines forced the Spartans into a lot of tough shots and never let them establish a flow to get back into this one.
After not showing up in too many games this year, Caleb Houstan came to play by scoring 16 points, including a few buckets at the start of the second half that thwarted any chance of a Michigan State comeback.
One of Michigan’s many weaknesses this season has been its lack of contribution of the bench, but the second unit came to play in this one. Terrance Williams II entered the game on fire, scoring all of nine of his points on first-half threes that helped turn an eight-point game when he checked in into an 18-point game.
It’s no secret the Spartans love to push the pace, but Frankie Collins matched that pace and was a huge part of Michigan’s 14-0 and 11-2 runs in the first half. The freshman point guard got a lot of minutes with DeVante’ Jones in foul trouble and while he didn’t score himself, his four assists and two steals were huge for the Wolverines.
This has to be up there with the Purdue win in terms of offensive production, and aside from one 7-0 run that started after Mr. March started complaining about Dickinson’s taunting, the Wolverines were in control offensively all game long.
This can not be a flash in the pan
This win is very encouraging because it helps Michigan’s tournament resume and gives it momentum heading into two games against ranked opponents over the last two regular season games.
As fun as this win was, Michigan fans know this basketball team too well this season; one game it will look like a top-10 team in the country, and the next game it will barely be able to slow down Nebraska.
If the Wolverines want to solidify their place in the tournament, they have to keep playing like this and must continue to consistently thrive offensively against No. 24 Iowa on Thursday and No. 23 Ohio State on Sunday,
If the Wolverines manage to win both those games, it will be pretty hard to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.