On Saturday night, the Michigan Wolverines continued their undefeated season with an 88-73 win over Central Michigan University. The team got huge contributions from three of its stars, but was missing a key piece of the puzzle. Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. sat out for the first time in his career from an ankle injury.
The Wolverines are not being very specific about the injury, but it does not appear to be serious. After Saturday’s win head coach John Beilein said, “We’re not exactly sure what is going on, but we were being cautious with the Big Ten schedule coming up. We don’t play again until Thursday, so we’re going to give him as much rest as possible and see where he is closer to game time.” Rumors were that Hardaway sat out as a precautionary move before the start of Big Ten Conference play. Beilein put these rumors to rest saying if it was a conference game Hardaway would still have sat out.
The Wolverines players appear to be left in the dark. Trey Burke had this to say after the game, “They haven’t told me, but it’s not too serious. I think it’s just like a bone bruise. I’m sure he’ll be back next game.” I’m guessing Burke is wrong and Hardaway sits out at least one or two games.
On the season, Hardaway is averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The junior guard is also shooting a career high 47% from the field. Hardaway Jr. averages over 33 minutes a game, so there will be some adjustments made. Lucky for Michigan, the team is deep and shouldn’t have big problems in his short term absence.
Without Hardaway Jr, Michigan started Caris LeVert. In his first start, LeVert scored a career high nine points. Prior to the game, LeVert was averaging only 10.8 minutes and 2.2 points per game. Beilein started a total of three freshmen. LeVert, along with Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas, was part of a freshman trio that scored 48 points.
Michigan is off to their second best start in school history. Back in the 1985-1986 season, the Wolverines went 16-0. Michigan will attempt to break that record over the next four games with or without Hardaway Jr. Michigan is also one of only four unbeaten schools left and hopes to be the last one standing, despite a strong Big Ten schedule. The first three conference games for the Wolverines shouldn’t give the team any trouble. Michigan faces Northwestern, Iowa and Nebraska all at home. After those three games, the team will hope to have a full roster to take on Ohio State and Minnesota, both ranked in the top 25, on the road.