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The environment in Ames will provide Michigan with a grueling road test early in the year.
This game may not seem very important since the Michigan Wolverines clearly overmatch the Iowa State Cyclones on paper, but it is a make-or-break game for a couple of reasons.
For one, this will be Michigan's first road game of the season.
Given how many young players the Wolverines have—especially with a freshman potentially starting at point guard—and last season's road woes, this will be a big test early in the year.
The Maize and Blue were 5-5 in road contests last season. Two of those wins were against Bradley and Northwestern, meaning neither was very impressive. A loss at Penn State was a low point, too.
The Cyclones return a pair of athletic forwards in Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang. Those two combined for 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds per game during the 2012-13 campaign. The bulk of Iowa State's 346 three-pointers are gone—however, head coach Fred Hoiberg undoubtedly has a few more long-range shooters in his stable.
Another reason why this is a crucial game is because it could wind up hurting Michigan's NCAA tournament seeding. Losses to Arizona and Duke might not bolster the Wolverines' case for a high seed, but it certainly would not be seen in quite such a negative light.
On the other hand, failing to knock off a lesser opponent, no matter the venue, does not look good in the eyes of the committee. Michigan needs to be ready for this test in the opening month of the season.