2023-24 Season

‘Working towards it every day’: Michigan still searching for defensive identity after 21 games

Not much has gone right for Michigan this year, especially on the defensive end. Its defense is ranked 187th nationally in adjusted efficiency and is the second worst in Big Ten play, and it hemorrhages big runs with regularity.

With Rutgers coming to town, though, the Wolverines could meet their perfect foil. The Scarlet Knights have struggled in their own right, with the Big Ten’s least efficient offense. They rank 296th out of 362 teams in scoring offense. They struggle to shoot inside the arc (43.8 percent) and outside the arc (28.4 percent).

All that creates an opportunity to take advantage of those flaws and earn a big defensive outing. Searching for a third conference victory in the back half of the schedule, such an opportunity can’t be wasted.

Even with a perceived advantage, or at least a matching weakness, Michigan isn’t focused on weaknesses so much as ways to stop Rutgers’ strengths.

“With Rutgers, I don’t look into the struggles that they’re having,” Juwan Howard said Friday. “I look at and dial into what they do well, and also what we can do to counter, or what can we take away.”

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