Preseason NIT 2012: Michigan Wolverines Show Dominance in MSG
Madison Square Garden got a taste of just how good the Michigan Wolverines are this season during the 2012 Preseason NIT.
After beating Pittsburgh in the semifinals, the Wolverines embarrassed a talented Kansas State team that had previously been undefeated, winning 71-57.
The Wolverines hosted Cleveland State in the quarterfinals of the tournament, winning that game by 30 points, before heading to New York to play in the Garden.
Michigan's first game was a tough matchup with Pitt, whose strategy and disruptive, pestering defense was bound to give the Wolverines problems.
However, despite Mitch McGary and Matt Vogrich struggling (McGary recording two points, three turnovers and four fouls and Vogrish failing to score as a starter), the team pulled off a tough-fought victory by coming back from a second-half deficit and fending off Pittsburgh's late surge.
While that game was not as impressive as the finals, it still showed that Michigan is capable of beating teams who provide difficult matchups.
The team next took on Kansas State and ran the Wildcats out of the gym.
Behind Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 23 points and seven rebounds, the Wolverines cruised to an easy victory. The team opened the game with a 10-3 run and never looked back, running away with the game in the second half.
Trey Burke and Hardaway Jr. impressed during the tournament, combining for 33.0 points, 7.5 assists and 10.0 rebounds per game. The back court led the way on offense, while the team's stingy defense allowed just 59.5 points per game.
Michigan blew everyone away in MSG, winning the NIT by a mile.
The team's tests are far from over, however, as the team's next game comes against No. 16 North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
On November 27, the team will host the Wolfpack in what will be the team's toughest game so far, and their most difficult nonconference game of the season.
Mark Gottfried's crew is a deep, talented team filled with superstars.
Point guard Lorenzo Brown is constantly underrated, while freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis leads three McDonald's All-Americans from the Class of 2013. C.J. Leslie may also be the best player in the ACC this season.
After the team plays NC State, it has a stretch of 10 games in a row without facing a ranked opponent, including the first three games of the team's Big Ten schedule.
The Wolverines proved that they have the talent to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this season and the next few months will be telling as to just how far the team will go.
For now, I expect to see the team in the Final Four in March behind the nation's best backcourt.
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