Brock’s Random Thoughts: How Will U-M Look After COVID Pause?
Michigan men's basketball has been one of the big surprises in college basketball this season. Not many people expected them to lead the Big Ten and have a 13-1 overall record, not to mention a number 3 national ranking (whatever that means).
But here we are in Mid-February, and the Wolverines are everything that I just mentioned. And I had a feeling they'd be good after they blew out Maryland on New Year's Eve. I know they had close wins to Penn State and Oakland, and haven't played all the top teams in the Big Ten yet (Iowa, Ohio State), but they have looked great at times since New Year's Eve.
No, they are just coming out of a COVID-19 pause. Michigan instituted a 14 day pause back on January 23rd because of the COVID-19 variant, one day after they crushed Purdue on the road, and haven't played since.
The Wolverines have a nice mix of experience and youth on the team, and that has helped them tremendously. Center Hunter Dickinson (pictured above) is likely the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, sophomore Franz Wagner (Moe's little brother) looks like a future pro. And senior transfers Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown have contributed as well. Smith and Brown have supplemented upperclassmen Isaiah Livers, Austin Davis, Eli Brooks, and Brandon Johns, Jr. (who has to come off the bench because they are so deep).
They are so deep that highly touted freshmen Terrance Williams and Zeb Jackson have been relegated to the bench. That's a nice problem for head coach Juwan Howard to have.
But with the COVID-19 pause happening (which will end on Sunday when they play at Wisconsin), how will the Wolverines look on the court after sitting for 23 days? Michigan State, for example, struggled after their three-week COVID pause in January. Nine conference games remain that will help answer that question for the Blue.
If you'd have told me that Michigan would be a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament this season, I would've laughed at you. But that is very likely if they can come back and play as well as they have before the pause. At Wisconsin on Sunday will be a good first test.