The Crisler Center has seen its share of great basketball players, coaches and great basketball teams for many years: Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, The Fab Five….a group of players (to name a few) didnt just change the fortunes of Wolverine basketball in the 1990s but put it on the map forever while also changing the culture and apparel for basketball teams across the nation (see the ESPN 30 for 30 Fab Five piece…..its phenomenal). What was also present during those days of the Fab Five was their great games with the veteran team from Durham, North Carolina the Duke Blue Devils led by Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill and Christian Laettner.
Now its 2019 and the veteran team (and best team in the nation according to this writer) is the Michigan Wolverines and the Fab Five resides in Durham. It’s like a Michael J. Fox movie with Back To the Future overtones and someone screwed up the parallel universe.
While thinking about how many things have changed in Ann Arbor and Durham in the past 27 years is mind blowing, you may possibly have to admit this Michigan team may be the best well oiled basketball machine in the nation. For the fans of Michigan basketball, this 2019 version of their maize and blue team could be one of its greatest ever in history.
The #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines placed four players in double figures today and took down their upset minded #21 ranked Big Ten rivals the Indiana Hoosiers before a raucous crowd in Crisler Arena 74-63.
Defeating Indiana by 11 points may not seem very dominating but the closest the Hoosiers could get to evening up the score all night was nine. At one point, the Wolverine lead was 22 points and until Indiana shrunk it to 9, the Wolverines looked as if it would totally run away with the game.
Michigan guards Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole led the Wolverine attack with 18 points a piece attacking the Hoosier interior over and over while Zavier Simpson scored 12 points but led all three Wolverine guards with 3 assists and 39 of 40 minutes played. Matthews and Poole played 38 and 37 minutes respectively also).
The interior play of Ignas Brazdeikis was also on display as usual as he scored just 10 points but was always effective with his presence on the glass and with simple screens away from the ball to free up the great Wolverine guards.
Michigan, while ranked #2, is this writers choice on NCAAM Review for the #1 ranked team in the country and for good reason. The Wolverines, under John Beilein, are 15-0 in what could be the best basketball conference in the nation. With only their in state cousins, the Michigan State Spartans, as the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten, the Michigan Wolverines as seen in their dismantling of Indiana could be on track for a historic season in Crisler Center. Could it be a season which could see this group of maize and blue go undefeated in the Big Ten?
That is left to be seen. If the Wolverines total surgical precision of attacking offensively against the Hoosier defense is any indication of what we will see in the future, the Big Ten Conference better get use to hearing Hail To The Victors played very often……not just in Crisler Center but at every venue headed to the Final Four in 2019.
Right now the Wolverines have the recipe to make a run. A cup full of offense, a couple cups of defense, a few teaspoons of rebounding followed by a lot of heart and passion mixed together by the chef John Beilein and you have a recipe that a lot of coaches would love to have right now. Guess that’s why on gameday, Crisler Center is really cooking.
Big Ten Conference opponents….. welcome to the kitchen colored maize and blue. But beware….its pretty warm in there right now.