Michigan basketball thinks non-conference prepared them well, Jordan Dumars is eligible and more
Jordan Morgan thinks his team is ready. Then again, he’s never been through a Big Ten season before.
The Michigan redshirt freshman thinks the way the Wolverines scheduled their non-conference opponents - playing teams with good big men like Oakland and Utah, along with teams with quality guards like Harvard and Clemson - gave them a wide net of experiences.
“It was a pretty good array of players and teams that score in different ways," Morgan said. "We learned different ways to defend different teams.”
It worked well enough to give Michigan a 10-2 record, some confidence and the label of “Most Surprising Team in the Big Ten” almost unanimously from pundits who predicted the Wolverines to be at the bottom of the league.
Yet, except for a five-day stretch at the end of November, Michigan’s non-conference schedule was questionable. It played a bunch of teams on the lower end of the RPI ratings, the Wolverines' strength of schedule is at 199 according to statsheet.com.
Michigan's own RPI is 59. That isn't a terrible number, but it does signify their relatively easy schedule.
Of course, it isn’t the Wolverines’ fault Utah has dropped three straight or that Oakland seems to be suffering from its extremely tough non-conference schedule.
But the tests Michigan will see beginning Tuesday against Purdue (2 p.m., Big Ten Network) will be a lot different than anything it has seen since Atlantic City, N.J. against Syracuse and UTEP on back-to-back nights.
“You get through the guarantee games and that part of the non-conference schedule, it’s a sigh of relief sometimes. You get through it, get a bunch of home games and games that people probably expect you to win,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “Coaches don’t expect to win those, but if they play well, they have a chance. In the Big Ten, we know the competition is incredible every night and hopefully we’re up for it.”
Michigan will find out fast. Its next five games include No. 12 Purdue, Penn State, at Wisconsin, No. 3 Kansas and No. 2 Ohio State.
Awards for Michigan It took almost two months, but Michigan finally had someone receive a Big Ten weekly honor this season.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
“Darius Morris has emerged as one of the best guards in our conference,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He has the freedom to make plays.”
Adding to that, freshman forward Tim Hardaway Jr. shared Freshman of the Week honors with Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.
Hardaway Jr. had a career-high 20 points aginst Bryant, including 4 of 8 from the 3-point line. It was his fourth-straight double-digit game.
Dumars eligible It took a little longer than he hoped, but Michigan sophomore guard Jordan Dumars is finally eligible to play after transferring from South Florida a year ago.
Dumars, who walked on at Michigan after leaving South Florida, needed his grades to be posted before he became eligible. Now that he is, it doesn’t mean he’ll slide into the rotation.
Or play at all right away.
“Probably not,” Beilein said. “Still trying to get in shape and learn things. But you never know.”
When he is in shape, Dumars will have to fight Hardaway, juniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass and sophomore Matt Vogrich for minutes.
This and that Beilein said his entire team made it back to campus on time ahead of the blizzard in the Northeast, including Boston-based freshman forward Evan Smotrycz. The 2 p.m. start time Tuesday came at the request of Michigan.