Michigan Can Still Prove They’re A Force
by Drew Sharp, USA TODAY Sports
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — This is why No. 1 rankings in college basketball mean very little. It’s too fluid a sport.
Michigan will lose its top ranking in the Associated Press poll after sustaining a tough, 81-73 loss at Indiana Saturday night, but if the Wolverines learn something from this loss, it can only help them as the season continues and the NCAA tournament approaches.
The college basketball season doesn’t really start until Feb. 1.
And now we’ll see how good the Wolverines actually are. This game began a four-game stretch that will define Michigan more than the first 20 games. The No. 2 Wolverines get No. 11 Ohio State at the Crisler Center on Tuesday before a grueling two-game road stretch against Wisconsin and No. 9 Michigan State. They’ll be ecstatic if they go through that stretch with a 2-2 record, but we’ll see if they’re prepared to handle the extra attention they’ve received with one of their best starts in school history.
There’s a constant sense of urgency in college basketball today that Michigan can’t ignore.
They’ve got a truly special player in Trey Burke. Guys like that don’t come around too often so you had better take full advantage of his talents while he’s still around. He isn’t intimidated by the magnitude of the moment. Without him, Michigan no doubt trails by double digits at halftime against the Hoosiers. Without him, this is strictly a marginal collection of recruits few thought much of initially rather than a team that must be taken seriously once February morphs into March.
Burke probably isn’t staying in Ann Arbor beyond this season.
An NBA executive told me 12 months ago during Burke’s surprisingly impressive freshman season that he was a guy who knew how to, as he called it, “slow down the game when it’s at top speed.” It doesn’t matter that Burke might be six feet tall on a good day. The biggest man on the floor at any given time is the guy who can competently control the game.
As big as this game was promoted, it still remains a preamble for what’s to come. They’ll meet again … [For more on Michigan still a force and there's time left to prove it, click here.]