Wolverines Back In First!

Well, okay, a TIE for first. With the Michigan men's basketball team beating Iowa today, and Purdue losing at Minnesota, the Wolverines and Boilermakers sit on top of the Big Ten with 7-2 records, one game ahead of Wisconsin and Illinois. What does U-M's remaining schedule portend?

First off, Michigan looked good enough in it's game today against Iowa to, it is rather amazing to say, contend for the title. Bernard Robinson played a complete 'buzzer to buzzer' game, Lester Abram is increasingly becoming a 'quiet force', and even though LaVell Blanchard remains a streaky scorer (and prone to foul trouble), his rebounding is a constant strength. Freshmen centers Chris Hunter and Graham Brown add just enough to the 'mix' not to leave a 'hole' in the middle. And then there is freshman point guard Daniel Horton -- simply the best freshman we have seen in a Michigan uniform since Phil Hubbard.

However, this is not a truly dominant-type team, so the players must stay at the top of their games. And ... the schedule will also play a role. With nine games down and seven to go, is it possible for the Wolverines to go, say, 5-2 in it's remaining games -- which would give them a 12-4 record, generally good for at least a Big Ten co-championship? Here is the remaining schedule.

Wed., Feb. 12 ... at Indiana (4-4 in the Big Ten)
Sat., Feb. 15 ... Ohio State (4-5 in the Big Ten)
Wed., Feb. 19 ... at No. 25 Purdue (7-2 in the Big Ten)
Wed., Feb. 26 ... at Wisconsin (6-3 in the Big Ten)
Sat., Mar. 1 ... No. 16 Illinois(5-3 in the Big Ten)
Wed., Mar. 5 ... at Penn State (0-8 in the Big Ten)
Sat., Mar. 8 ... No. 25 Purdue (7-2 in the Big Ten)

Michigan has four road games left, and three at home. Can it win it's three games at Crisler? They should probably beat Ohio State (4-5 in the Big Ten, and whom U-M has already beaten on the road), but the other two against co-leader Purdue and 2nd place Illinois will be tough -- and will tell Michigan fans what kind of team the Wolverines really are this year. Then there are the four road games. The March 5th game at Penn State (who U-M beat handily at home) should be winnable, but the other three are at 2nd place Wisconsin (who U-M beat by one point at home), co-leader Purdue, and, this coming Wednesday, 4-4 Indiana.

So, the upcoming game this Wednesday at Indiana is key. If the Wolverines can get by that one, and then 'hold down the fort' at home, they could go 5-2 for their remaining games. In which case -- what a remarkable year it would be for Tommy Amaker & co.

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