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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts On Michigan

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers dropped a game at the sold out RAC to #7 Michigan by the score of 77-65. Four quick thoughts:

So Michigan is Really Good: The worry tonight, after the Wolverines dropped game to Iowa last Friday, was that Michigan would come out angry. They may have been peeved, but they also were scalding hot. They opened the game shooting 80% at one point and opened up a 17 point lead. And it wasn’t like Rutgers wasn’t playing hard, it just felt like they couldn’t keep up. The hot start was enough for Michigan to withstand Rutgers the rest of the way. And whenever Rutgers tried to get close Ignas Brazdeikis made a back breaking three.

Rutgers Did Almost Everything Right the Rest of the Way: It’s clear that the Scarlet Knights have found an offensive identity that works. Go the hoop, make the lay-up and try to get fouled. Take the open three when it’s there. Bear down on defense and only give the opponent one chance. Rutgers did all that. They didn’t turn the ball over. They rarely gave Michigan second chances. They got to the rim. It kept them within arms length of Michigan for nearly all the second half. At one point, down only 8, Geo Baker took a step back three that was wide open. Had that gone in the roof would’ve blown off the RAC. Eugene Omoruyi and Montez Mathis were fantastic tonight on the offensive end, but the Scarlet Knights needed one more scorer to get untracked. Baker didn’t have his best game tonight, right when Rutgers needed it most.

Zavier Simpson Made Geo Work: Simpson was a beast tonight. Not only was he hitting ridiculous jump hook shots that curved magically into the hoop, he was up in Geo Baker’s grill. Baker had little room to work and get the offense going. The Scarlet Knights eventually made adjustments, but man, Michigan has good players. They had 4 guys in double figures tonight.

Kudos to the RAC Crowd: The fans, particularly the students, were loud from the tip tonight. And even thought it never felt like Rutgers was truly in the game, it never really felt like they were out of it. The crowd got loud several times and tried to will the team to a run that never came. The crowd never had a moment to truly let loose—maybe that’s a year away, who knows? But man the sold out RAC did everything possible to try and will Rutgers to a win that never came.