#5 Michigan Basketball, Big Ten Bellwether, Provide Good Early Test for Northwestern Wildcats

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JOHN BEILEIN

University of Michigan- basketball school? Well, it certainly feels like it right now as the Wolverines moved up to #5 in the latest AP poll, and hold the highest current position of any Big Ten team. John Beilein has guided Michigan basketball to two national title game appearances, three elite eights and four sweet sixteens in the past five seasons.

Meanwhile Jim Harbaugh, who is paid more than three times as much as Beilein, has yet to accomplish any of the three things he was hired to do in 2015 (beat Ohio State, win Big Ten titles, compete for national titles).

michigan wolverines basketball

Joining Michigan in the AP poll from the league this week are: Michigan State #10, Wisconsin #12, Iowa #18, Ohio State #19, Maryland #23 and Nebraska #24. Purdue just missed out as they are 26th in voting this week, with their arch-rivals Indiana 35th in votes received. This season, the league will be a lot like sbobetasia in that they are a wide array of compelling and engaging games to choose from.

However, it looks like any contest involving Michigan will be special because the Wolverines look as legit as anybody right now. They have beaten every opponent by at least 17, with three of those coming over ranked foes.

They slaughtered reigning champions Villanova by 27 on the road in the Gavitt Games/rematch of last year’s title game. UM also thrashed North Carolina by 17 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, then Purdue by 19 in the conference season opener.

UNC Coach Roy Williams said after the loss at Michigan:

roy-williams

“It’s very frustrating right now. As a coach, I feel like I’ve done the worst job with this team in 31 years as a head coach. But give Michigan credit. They got tougher, they made the tougher plays.”

He didn’t stop there, adding:  “Guys, I’ve coached for 31 years. Right now, my coaching sucks” and “Right now, we stink.”

Michigan basketball (#3 Sagarin, #5 Kenpom) also swept the Big Ten weekly awards as sophomore guard Jordan Poole collected Player of Week and the team’s leading scorer, swingman Ignas Brazdeikis, was named Freshman of the Week.

In other words, this is the toughest game of the year so far for Northwestern (#51 Sagarin, #46 Kenpom) by a very wide margin and among the hardest challenges they’ll have all season. They’ll face the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on January 13th. NU has two losses on the season at Indiana on Saturday (#17 Sagarin and #26 Kenpom) and Fresno State (#71 Sagarin, #84 Kenpom) in the Wooden Legacy Thanksgiving tournament.

There is no shame in the loss at Assembly Hall as Archie Miller has a formidable team in his second year at IU. The loss to Fresno SAT. in southern California though was inexcusably ugly.

The best of their six wins thus far is Georgia Tech (Sagarin #63) in the B1G/ACC Challenge. In other words, a big upset win tomorrow night would certainly help to a.) give the new arena a big moment and b.) make people think the current Northwestern team resembles the 2016-17 edition more than the 2017-18 edition.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Lineups.com and Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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