Michigan looked good once again in their 88-73 win over Central Michigan to close out their non-conference schedule. The Wolverines got off to a quick start, with Trey Burke scoring 17 in the first half.
Michigan was without star junior, Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway missed the game with an ankle injury. He was in a suit and walking boot, but did not seem to have a noticeable limp. After the game John Beilein stated, “Based on what I found out about the injury, it is something that needed a little bit of time or could be something that could nag him all year long.”
It would behoove Beilen to be careful with Hardaway, and it appears that is what they are doing. Michigan opens their conference slate with three relatively easy games against Northwestern, Iowa and Nebraska. It is unclear how much time Hardaway will miss, but if he has to miss conference games this is the time to do it.
Replacing Hardaway in the starting lineup was Caris LeVert. The under the radar freshman was very impressive, with 9 points and 5 assists in his first career start. In a star studded freshman class, LeVert did not get very much attention heading in to the season and even had talk of being redshirted. He showed his shooting ability, and looked very aggressive, considering it was his fist start. LeVert appears to be making his presence known on this loaded team, and should see consistent not minutes off the bench in conference play.
The real story of the night was Burke. He was outstanding , finishing with 22 points on 9-12 shooting and 11 assists. He was dazzling on several fast breaks early in a game with a track match type start to it.
Burke found a nice connection with freshman Glenn Robinson III, feeding him nifty passes around the rim. Robinson ended up with 20 points on an incredibly efficient 9-13. He has an ability to get open around the rim and Burke is very good at getting him the ball. Overall, it has to be mentioned how great of a passer Burke has become. Over the last eight games, Burke has had 65 assists and just 9 turnovers.
Northwestern is next for the rolling Wolverines in Evanston. Whether or not Hard away will be healthy enough to go is unknown. Saturday, Michigan proved that they have enough to be very impressive without one of their best players, but as the difficulty in the schedule picks up, Hard away will become more valuable. Michigan now turns the page, after finishing the first chapter of their season 13-0 and no. 2 in the country. The next chapter will no doubt be tougher and should be very entertaining.