Michigan Sits Atop the Big Ten

25 Feb

As conference tournaments quickly approach the Big Ten has once again beat up upon each other on their way to a conference championship.  Teams 2-6 in the Big Ten are separated by just two games, but it is the team on top that may be a little unexpected to some, the Michigan Wolverines.

John Belein’s squad is coming off a trip to the national championship game lost National Player of the Year Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr.  The also had issues in the middle as sophomore center Mitch McGary had back issues and they were unsure how effective he would be.

Michigan State was thought to be the favorite in the conference with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Wolverines also likely to contend.  While a look at the standings shows that it has almost shaken out like that, except for one thing, the team at the top.

With just four games remaining on the Big Ten schedule it is Michigan that everyone is chasing.  They are 19-7 overall and 11-3 in the Big Ten putting them a half-game ahead of Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) who they hold a season sweep over and a full two-game lead over third place Wisconsin (22-5, 9-5).  With their remaining schedule of games against Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana it may be difficult for anyone to wrestle the top spot away from Michigan.

The team was only able to get eight games out of McGary due to his back issues but a trio of sophomores has stepped up for the maize and blue.  Nik Stauskas has become the team’s leading scorer at 17 points per game and fellow guard Caris LeVert has taken advantage of his increased playing time averaging 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals per contest compared to the two points and one rebound he averaged last season.  In the frontcourt Glenn Robinson III is averaging 13 points and four boards.

Despite the question marks coming into the season Michigan finds themselves in position for the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a potential top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.



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