It’s time to wipe the slate clean and enjoy this Michigan basketball team for what it is before it’s too late. The Wolverines aren’t perfect, they aren’t last year’s team, and they aren’t the preseason top-five that they were pegged to be. That was clear to everyone with two eyes and a television set by Thanksgiving.
Everything that could go wrong over the first two months of the season went wrong. Michigan was 7-7, faced a COVID outbreak, had the unfortunate combination of bad losses without good wins. Better teams have mailed it in with a .500 record in mid-January and moved onto their next chapters, but this team didn’t.
The preseason expectations have made it easy to fixate on what hasn’t worked rather than enjoying what has worked. The Wolverines aren’t a great defensive team, their 3-point shooting has been wildly inconsistent, and the transition from “makes sense on paper” to “works in a high-major college game” has taken this roster time to get right.
All of those complaints are absolutely valid, but the truth of the matter is that Michigan is a pretty good team that has played one of the most difficult schedules in the country. They aren’t a Final Four favorite or a Big Ten title contender, but they are a top-30 KenPom team that has played more like a top-20 team over the last month. They might not have the best bubble resume, but they are better than the average bubble team.
Michigan still has one of the very best offensive players in college basketball in Hunter Dickinson to lead an explosive offense and it still has freshmen capable of winning games with individual efforts, like Moussa Diabate’s 28 points on 15 shots tonight.
The Wolverines have quietly won seven of their last ten games and Thursday’s win in Iowa City was another boost for their postseason chances. The job isn’t done and they still need to win three of their final six games — five of which are Quad 1 games — just to make the NCAA Tournament, but they are good enough to do it and good enough to make something happen if they get there.
Take time to enjoy the ride on the way out, because this group is still getting better.
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