INDIANOPOLIS – The Michigan men’s basketball team knows what it is.
It is fully aware that since February 10, a total of 11 games, it has alternated between victories and defeats, so much so that it has become a point of conversation in the locker room – and Wolverine has won its last game.
“I remember there were some jokes this morning (center-year student Hunter Dickinson) who said,‘ We need to play with managers so we can get rid of the loss, ’” second-year forward Jace Howard said.
Such a scheme of wins and losses is not very conducive to a deep run in a single elimination tournament such as March Madness. This is a trend that Michigan is trying to break away from when it is playing with the 3rd number from Tennessee on Saturday, but finding this so elusive second victory in a row will be the most difficult task of the season.
Volunteers are a shining example of a team that peaks at the right time. They have lost only one game since early February, they are second in the country KenPom defense effectiveness and they are in the top 35 in offensive effectiveness.
Had Wolverine found a way to win on Saturday, it would easily have been the best win of the season by all accounts. Michigan coach Juvan Howard understands this.
“We understand that tomorrow we will play with a very good team,” he said. “This team has dimensions, they have shooting, they have a great coach, an experienced coach. Our children are just trying to be ready from start to finish, to play a competitive game, because this is the kind of game we expect from them. “
Just as self-awareness does not end the trend of gains and losses, understanding the problem can only go so far. Wolverines will need to perform at the highest level if they want to save their season.
It starts in the back area. After in his first tournament game Devante ‘Jones was left without a certified security guard due to a concussionMichigan can get it back on Saturday. Jones trained with the team on Friday morning and is a decision during the game against the volunteers. The return of their original player would almost certainly increase Wolverine’s chances of frustration. Tennessee is ranked eighth in the country in the number of interceptions per game, and his constant pressure on the ball has created problems for his opponents throughout the season. Michigan will need its veteran rear zone to be ball-resistant in front of volunteers who own the ball.
“In defense, they throw a lot of cover at you,” Juvan said. “… With these different types of coatings sometimes they can speed you up and cause confusion on the floor.”
But Juwan has a simple solution.
“The main thing is that we can’t change our minds.”
Sometimes the Wolverines were resilient, but other times they were anything. Their game against the Rams perfectly demonstrated this. In the first 13 minutes, Michigan turned the ball eight times, digging a huge hole. But for the rest of the game the Wolverines were steady, which allowed them to complete the comeback.
“This game has become a mirror of our season,” Jace said. “It made us dig deep and decide how much we want to finish the season, how much we want to achieve our goals.
“Just such a life. I remember saying during the break, “This game will reflect our season.” Coming out in the second half, as in the second half of the season, we were resilient, we turned it around and gave ourselves the opportunity to be like today.
Jace’s attitude is reflected in the rest of the team. Michigan knows what it is, he knows his strengths and certainly knows his weaknesses, but now it doesn’t really matter. Wolverines – one win from the appearance of Sweet Sixteen, and one loss from a constant trip to Ann Arbor. They know that much of the pain and frustration of the season can be reduced in just 40 minutes of basketball.
Tennessee is a really good team, and in order for Michigan to overcome frustration and end a series of victories and defeats, it will need to play the full game. But there is a possibility. It will only come down to whether Wolverines will be able to put it all together.
Either that, or go home. Jace, like the rest of the team, knows this:
“We had no choice.”