It doesn’t matter how many scrimmages, guarantee games or exhibitions a team plays in October and November. Nobody knows anything about their team until someone draws first blood.
How a team reacts at that moment can set the tone for weeks or months to come. When Michigan arrived at Finneran Pavilion last year, it was a team that lost two games in Spain and scored 18 points in a half against Holy Cross. When it left Philadelphia with a 73-46 win over the defending champs, everything was different.
Michigan’s first real test of the 2019-20 season wasn’t a public slaughter, but it was a crucial 79-69 win over a Creighton team that should make the NCAA Tournament. It was a victory that proved its backbone, poise, and its ability to react to adjustments by a new coach.