Though this season hasn’t gone the way many expected it to for Michigan, it’s worth noting that the Wolverines haven’t lost back-to-back games since a four-game losing streak way back toward the beginning of the season.
At A Glance
|RECORD||13-9 (6-4)||13-8 (4-4)|
|PPG||Caris LeVert 14.9||Aaron White 15.0|
|REBOUNDS||Caris LeVert 4.9||Aaron White 6.6|
|ASSISTS||Caris LeVert 3.7||Mike Gesell 3.5|
In a 76-66 overtime loss to Michigan State Feb. 1 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, we got a glimpse of what this Michigan team can be without its stars. Caris LeVert is of course sitting out the rest of the season with a foot injury, and Derrick Walton Jr. was not on the court with a turf toe injury.
Needless to say, the Wolverines’ efforts in that game gave this program much hope moving forward.
Once again tonight, Michigan will be without its two biggest stars, meaning someone else will need to step up and fill that void. That player could very well be Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman—as it has been for the last couple games.
MAAR’s aggression has come to the forefront for this team. You can’t take the focus away from the special things this true freshman has been doing. There can be talk about how much Zak Irvin isn’t doing in this time of need (though I don’t buy into that), but Michigan has a serious positive rolling right now.
Tonight against Iowa, Michigan will have a size disadvantage (as is usually the case), but the Hawkeyes don’t block very many shots. Michigan’s offense needs to become more about driving in and kicking it out, but a guy like Irvin, who has had his shot blocked way too many times this season, may find more success tonight on the drive.
That will be another huge indicator of what Michigan is able to do against these teams who are more well-rounded. The Wolverines have been playing tough basketball, but ultimately somebody will need to step up on a consistent basis for this team, if they want to claw back into the NCAA Tournament picture. Be it Irvin or MAAR, or someone else, it needs to happen.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.