Michigan Wolverines Basketball

Michigan Basketball: Toughest Games Ahead for Newly Minted No. 1 Wolverines

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21:  Head Coach John Beilein of the Michigan Wolverines calls out during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on November 21, 2012 in New York City. Michigan defeated Pittsburgh 67-62.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2013

The Michigan Wolverines have a lot of work ahead of them if they are to stay atop college basketball.

For the fourth time in the school's history, Michigan has earned the AP No. 1 ranking (h/t ESPN.com). The last time was during the 1992-93 season, which was during the height of the Fab Five.

Coincidentally, it was the Fab Five who helped to stunt the Wolverines' return to the summit again, with all of the sanctions imposed on the school.

Two decades later, Michigan finds itself among the elite of college basketball again. In order to stay there, the Wolverines will have to have these three games circled on the schedule.

 

Saturday, Feb. 2: at Indiana

The Indiana Hoosiers started the season out as the No. 1 team in the nation. A loss to the Wisconsin Badgers saw the Hoosiers drop to No. 5 and they have since risen to No. 3.

Michigan doesn't get much time to enjoy the top ranking, as it travels to Bloomington, Ind., this Saturday. The Wolverines lost last year's meeting in Assembly Hall by two points, 73-71.

In order to get a win this year, Trey Burke will need to have a much better performance. The sophomore guard shot only 4-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over four times. Tim Hardaway, Jr. was also unproductive, shooting 7-of-19.

 

Saturday, Feb. 9: at Wisconsin

This could be a real trap game for the Wolverines. In between their meeting with the Badgers, they have a home game against the Ohio State Buckeyes and then travel to East Lansing, Mich., to face off against the Michigan State Spartans.

Wisconsin isn't a team Michigan can brush aside, as evidenced by its upset of Indiana. The Badgers also took the Spartans and Minnesota Golden Gophers to the brink, losing by two points in each of the games.

The game against the Buckeyes will be far from a gimme. The Badgers, though, present a tougher matchup. Michigan will be plenty motivated to avenge its only loss of the season, and it gets Ohio State in the Crisler Center.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 12: at Michigan State

Another chance for revenge presents itself in the form of a trip to the Breslin Center. Michigan lost by 10 points last year in its trip to Michigan State.

Much as in their away matchup to Indiana last year, Burke and Hardaway struggled massively. The two combined to score only 15 points on only 5-of-21 shooting.

This is the end of a four-game stretch in which the Wolverines face three ranked opponents. If they can get through this run of games unscathed, the Wolverines have a very good chance of holding on to the top spot.

Michigan will still have dates with Michigan State and Indiana, but both games are at home and with a little more time to prepare.

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