Michigan Basketball: Wolverines winning with defense

The Michigan basketball team dominated yet another ranked opponent on Tuesday and they are being fueled by the defense.

The Wolverines are playing some of the best basketball of any team in the country right now. They have completely overwhelmed their last three opponents (all ranked) in route to making history. Michigan basketball is demoralizing teams, especially in the second half, but surprisingly it has been keyed by their defense.

If you have been watching the Wolverines play recently then it isn’t a surprise their defense is playing so well, but it wasn’t so long ago when it was a big question mark.

They were winning games early but still giving up a ton of points and a high percentage from deep. Just as recently as New Year’s eve the Wolverines gave up 73 points and 59.1% shooting from deep from a Maryland team that isn’t exactly a juggernaut.

Michigan basketball’s defense firing on all cylinders

But since then something has clicked. It might have been the team following the lead of sixth man Chaundee Brown, but it has become infectious.

Playing good defense starts with wanting to, and right now the Wolverines absolutely want to and it is paying off. Brown puts on a man-to-man defensive clinic every time he is out there and the others have taken notice.

Eli Brooks shut down Marcus Carr from Minnesota a week ago and has welcomed the challenge of guarding the best player on the other team.

Isaiah Livers has always been a very good defender and he has just gotten better. Franz Wagner has become an absolute stud on the defensive side of the ball also. It comes as no surprise that as they have played better defense their offensive game has picked up also.

Hunter Dickinson has been amazing on the offensive side of the ball, but has absolutely looked the part on defense also.

The biggest surprise could be in Mike Smith. The knock on Smith was that he was not a good defender and Michigan was going to have to hide him. Early in the season that looked like it was a fair assessment, but lately, he has figured it out and it has been almost a complete 180.

The defense absolutely put the clamps on the Badgers last night in their 43-6 run. Yes, the Badgers took some bad shots, but most of that was because of the Wolverines’ defense. It was a clinic that they put on and if you are an opposing coach you have to be very concerned about how well the defense is playing.

The offense has been great, but the defense has been better. They are currently up to 11th in adjusted defense according to Kenpom and that will only continue to rise as they continue to play.

The defense is allowing the Wolverines to go on ridiculous runs that turn close games into routs in quick fashion. The new-look defense appears to be something that is here to stay. The team has bought in and the excitement shown when they get huge stops is contagious.

This team is special and it is all starting on the defensive side of the ball.