In fact, with no Caris LeVert or Derrick Walton Jr., the Wolverines have been without two of their top scorers for half the season. So naturally somebody has to step up and fill their void in the scoring column, right?
And players have, it just hasn’t always been the same player.
Which should make Michigan (15-15, 8-10 Big Ten) harder to prepare for heading into Big Tournament play.
Example: freshman Aubrey Dawkins scored a career-high 31-points, including 8-of-11 from three-point range in U-M’s 79-69 win over Rutgers.
“All of sudden Aubrey Dawkins averages 28 points in two games to end the season,” U-M coach Joohn Beilein said. “Those are type of things probably other people might not have planned on. I think we are more comfortable when we know what to expect from another team.
“But with right now, we have different people stepping up. We have different people also showing that they’re young. And who are you getting ready for? That is the question.”
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has averaged 4.3 points during his last four games. Which could suggest he’s hit his freshman wall, but Beilein not buying it.
“We have been putting him on the other teams best player as his defense has gotten better,” Beilein said. “And he’s really concentrated on that. I think he’s pretty well rested and doing his best. He’s learning on the fly.
“So he is really is making progress. But I don’t think he’s tired. I think he just continues to learn every day. And that can probably stagnate temporally your improvement.”
With the Big Ten expanding to 14 teams this season, the higher seeds in the Big Ten tournament now have two bye dates before their first game, and Beilein says it’s “deserved” if earned.
The teams that are at the top of the league deserve this,” Beilein said. “But everybody deserves to be in the tournament as well. You just can never know what can happen. It makes a lot of sense. The problem with that is teams don’t necessarily know who they are going to play. But it the way it should be done if you have 14 teams.”
No. 9 seed Michigan will next play No. 8 seed Illinois this Thursday at noon.