Michigan basketball looked like a team capable of making some noise this season in the Big Ten on Tuesday night. Here are the gut reactions from the win over UNC Asheville.
Facing a team that won its conference last season and played in the NCAA tournament, it wouldn’t have been shocking to see Michigan baskeball struggle.
The Wolverines had three new starters and three transfers playing key roles. They also don’t have Hunter Dickinson (transfer to Kansas) anymore. Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard are also playing in the NBA.
So after missing the tournament, we didn’t know what to expect. I gave Michigan basketball fans five reasons to be optimistic, but even I underestimated this team, based on what we saw on Tuesday night in a 99-74 win.
We shouldn’t get carried away and call this team a Big Ten title contender.
However, Dug McDaniel and Olivier Nkamhoua looked like All-Big Ten players. Nkamhoua has had some great moments in his career including 27 points against Duke last season, but he had five dunks, including an alley-oop from Dug, and scored 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists.
McDaniel set the tone early with his 3-point shooting and playmaking. Dug had 22 points when it was over along with eight assists, four 3-pointers, and just two turnovers. Terrance Williams had 15 points and made three triples, while Nimari Burnett and Will Tschetter also hit two.
Not only did I think Michigan basketball would struggle to cover the spread, which was 10.5 points — I didn’t see them scoring 99 points. It was an impressive effort and here are the gut reactions.
Gut reactions from win over UNC Asheville
- If Dug McDaniel plays like that all year, Michigan basketball will be dancing in March. Ditto for Nkamhoua. In fact, if they both play that well, this could be a contender in the Big Ten.
- What a debut for Nkamhoua. He was incredibly smooth and his athleticism was maybe the most underrated part of his addition. He’s also really polished down low.
- Michigan dominated the 2-point battle shooting 63 percent on twos (26/41) compared to 40 percent for Asheville (12-of-30). That was particularly impressive since 6-foot-11 Drew Pember is a force for Asheville. He got 19 points but was just 4-of-10 from the field.
- It was awesome to see Terrance Williams start the way he did. That really bodes well for the rest of the season.
- Tarris Reed was solid and played under control. He had just two fouls and one turnover while making all four shots from the field. The sophomore also grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists.
- Michigan’s ball movement was superb. U-M assisted on 20 of 38 field goals. The Wolverines also turned it over just eight times.
- It’s clear Dug took a leap.
- It’s one game but there were a lot of positives.
- Go Blue!