Michigan defeated in-state rival Michigan State by a score of 79-70 on Sunday afternoon, and it became apparent that the formula they used to beat the Spartans is one they will need to rely on in order to be successful the rest of this season.
They were led by guards Nik Stauskas and Caris Levert, and forward Glenn Robinson III in the victory, and it appears that when these three are on, Michigan will be just fine against any opponent that stands in their way.
For as much grief as Robinson has been given this season, he was tasked with going head-to-head with MSU’s Adriean Payne today and absolutely rose to the occasion, scoring 15 points. Payne was a force early on, but ultimately finished with only 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Robinson’s jump shot was not falling early, which has been a sign for doom for the Wolverines at times this season, but instead of falling into old habits, GR3 decided to take it upon himself to become a slasher today and take the ball to the rim, and it absolutely paid off.
Stauskas’ 25 point explosion was something the Wolverines desperately needed. The sophomore sharpshooter had not scored more than 16 points in a game since their 75-66 over Purdue on Jan. 30 and had struggled from beyond the arc. He seemed to come back from that today, as well, going 3-for-5 from long range.
Stauskas was the push in the second half that Michigan needed to take over the game, but it was Levert’s performance that was the best. The unsung hero of this year’s squad scored 23 points and made several hustle plays in the first half that kept things from getting out of hand when the Spartans were hot early on.
John Beilein continues to tell the media that Levert has yet to even scratch his potential, which is absolutely frightening to think about. While not the flashiest guy on the court at any given time, he does just about everything well and can score with the best of them when he gets hot.
Robinson is likely headed to the NBA after this year. It is also possible that Stauskas could go, but it does not look like Levert is going anywhere after this year so expect his game to continue to grow.
The win over the Spartans showcased just how everyone fits into this puzzle when things go well. Stauskas is the marksman, GR3 the slasher, and Levert as the Swiss army knive. These three guys alone can help Michigan make a nice postseason run this year, and with weapons like freshman Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin at their disposal, too, this team could have as high a ceiling as anyone.
There are still things to sharpen up before March Madness hits. Michigan still has four conference games left, all of which they should be able to win, so the focus needs to be on tweaking what’s gone wrong and prep for another NCAA Tournament run, which appears as if it could be a fun one just as last year’s was.