The Michigan Wolverines began the 2021 basketball season with an 88-76 victory over the Buffalo Bulls. After a dominant first half by Michigan, the Bulls proved why they will be an NCAA Tournament team as they cut the lead to as little as five in the second half. (My condolences to those who bet the spread of Michigan -12.5.)
The superstar freshman duo of Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate was as advertised for the Wolverines, combining for 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Michigan defense also flashed its ceiling in the first half and floor in the second half. Despite Buffalo’s second half surge, Michigan held them to only 17.9% from beyond the arc for the entire game.
And Hunter Dickinson was Hunter Dickinson, finishing with 27 points and taking over late when the Wolverines needed him to.
While it is impossible to draw meaningful conclusions from one basketball game, it is an appropriate time to overreact. Here are a few overreactions to the first game of the season.
Dickinson Will Average 20 points-per-game
Dickinson was expected to be THE offensive force for Michigan throughout the season, and a 27-point performance against Buffalo confirmed those expectations.
Dickinson still struggled at the free throw line (5-of-8) and has yet to flash the rumored improved jump shot. If the sophomore can put all of it together, National Player of the Year is within reach.
DJ Will Win Conference DPOY
DeVante’ Jones was third in the country in steals last season (2.8 per-game) at Coastal Carolina and had two steals in only 18 minutes against Buffalo due to foul trouble. Jones has active hands and is a tremendous help-side defender, but has to do what he can to limit the whistles against him.
While a valuable play-maker on the offensive end, Jones’ biggest impact for this team will be on the defense.
Foul Shooting & Finishing
If there is a glaring weakness for this team it is at the free-throw line. The Wolverines combined to shoot 18-of-30 from the charity stripe and missed timely free throws when Buffalo was making a run in the second half.
With Michigan’s bad habit of going cold for extended stretches offensively, the inability to hit free throws will allow several teams to hang around in games that have no business being close.
Terry Two Sticks Has Arrived
Terrance Williams II, TW2, T-Will, Terry Two Sticks, whatever you want to call him, was outstanding off the bench for Michigan.
Williams finished with 15 points, made 2-of-3 from deep, 5-of-7 from the field, hauled in seven rebounds and was a menace on the defensive end. This was Williams’ most complete game of his Michigan career, and he could prove to be the malleable utility player the Wolverines can plug-and-play in several different lineups.
Williams will be one of the most important players for Michigan this season.