When previewing tonight’s Michigan– West Virginia game I highlighted the fact that Indiana’s loss opened the door for Michigan o grab the Big Ten throne, for now. That is exactly what they did tonight, winning 81-66. Michigan now moves to 11-0, and will most likely become the no. 2 team in the country in the next poll.
Tonight, in the beautiful new Barclays Center, Michigan’s stars shined. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. were spectacular, carrying the team offensively. Both played 38 minutes, as they combined for a very efficient 52 points (Burke with 27, Hardaway 25). Burke was the epitome of a floor general throughout the night. He guided the offense, finding open teammates, and scoring at will. His strong handles and quickness broke down an aggressive Mountaineer defense. The defense was pressuring the Wolverines at half-court, sometimes even a full-court press. Burke was able to not only beat the pressure, but also create scoring chances.
Hardaway was also very aggressive, attacking the rim and knocking down threes. While three point shooting used to be Hardaway’s major flaw, he has made it in to a strength. He has done this by being smarter about when to shoot threes, opposed to when to attack the basket.
It should be noted how rough of a night the bench had. Just four reserves played, combining for 3 points in 28 combined minutes. The stars carried Michigan, with little help from their backups.
To make matters worse, redshirted sophomore Jon Horford injured his left knee in the first half. Horford, who missed the final 25 games last year with a right foot injury, had been looking pretty good so far this season. He looked to be in quite a bit of pain, putting no pressure on his left leg while being helped off the court. Horford is the third big man on this team and his size will be important in tough games, especially when Jordan Morgan or Mitch McGary get in foul trouble. Michigan was fine without him last season, but he could be a very valuable player if Michigan goes places this year.
Tonight was a big win for Michigan. It was a neutral court win over a pretty good West Virginia team that kept them undefeated and taking over the reigns in the Big Ten.