This Thursday evening at the Barn marks one of the most anticipated match-ups in recent Gopher basketball history: No. 5 Michigan takes on No. 9 Minnesota in the first game between Top-10 ranked teams at Williams Arena since 1972 (not counting the vacated season of 1976-77). GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett gives us a quick look at the Wolverines.
Big Ten Preview: Michigan
Thursday marks the first match-up of Top-10 teams at Williams Arena since 1977.
Head Coach: John Beilein
Last Year's Big 10 Record: 13-5
This Year's Big 10 Record: 3-1 (Ws vs. Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska; Loss at OSU).
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Trey Burke-18.0 ppg; Tim Hardaway Jr.-16.1 ppg; Nik Stauskas-12.7 ppg; Glenn Robinson III-12.3 ppg; Jordan Morgan-6.6 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Mitch McGary-5.4 rpg; Glenn Robinson III-5.8 rpg; Jordan Morgan-5.5 rpg; Tim Hardaway Jr.-5.4 rpg; Nik Stauskas-3.2 rpg.
Notable non-conference wins: Pittsburgh, Kansas State, N.C. State, Arkansas, West Virginia, Bradley
Notable non-conference losses: None
This year's Michigan team is unlike ones in year's past. The Wolverines still rely on the 3-point ball, but not as much. Michigan also has much more athleticism. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke lead a team that hasn't lost a game this season. To make things worse for the other teams in the Big Ten, Michigan has a freshman class that's making a big impact right now. Power forwards Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and guard Nik Stauskas add depth and more athleticism to a team that already has an abundance of it. Michigan has played well against tough non-conference opponents. They've beat up on West Virginia and Kansas State, and handled N.C. State, who's been in the top 20 all season. The only slight weakness is how young this team is. Three of the Wolverines top six scorers are freshmen this season.
After being upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, the question remains how much has Michigan learned from that experience. The Wolverines should be a strong contender for the Big Ten title this year and if everything falls just right, they should be in the hunt for a National Championship as well.