5 Things We Learned from Michigan's Win over Wofford

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2014

5 Things We Learned from Michigan's Win over Wofford

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Michigan has big dreams of getting back to the Final Four, and the Wolverines took the first of four steps to get there by handling Wofford, 57-40, in their opening game of the NCAA tournament.

    While the Wolverines were never in any real jeopardy, it was not an impressive performance. Michigan did what it had to get to the second round, even though it only scored 23 points in the second half.

    The Wolverines had a significant advantage in athleticism and all-around ability, and they did not let the Terriers get competitive in the game. 

Stauskas Seizes Control, Again

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Nik Stauskas was Michigan's premier scorer and go-to guy throughout the regular season. He averaged a team-high 17.4 points this year, and he was the Wolverines' leading scorer against Wofford.

    Stauskas scored a team-high 15 points, as he made five of nine shots from the field, including three of six from beyond the arc. While Stauskas did not have an overpowering game, he played with confidence and let his teammates know that if they needed him in a big situation, he was going to be there for them.

    Michigan built a sizable lead early in the game, and the Wolverines were never truly threatened, but the presence of Stauskas made it clear that they had their answer if the Terriers had ever posed a serious question.

Superb Playmakers

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Michigan was the bigger and more athletic team. That much was clear when the committee set the matchups on Selection Sunday.

    However, Michigan was also the more creative and skilled team. The Wolverines did a much better job of setting up shots and scoring opportunities than Wofford. Michigan registered 15 assists in this game, while the Terriers had 10 assists.

    Derrick Walton Jr. was smooth with the ball throughout the game, as he registered a team-high five assists. His performance would have been even more notable if he had not turned the ball over twice. Caris LeVert added four assists for the Wolverines, and he also added five rebounds.

Team Defense

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    While Wofford was able to make a couple of runs throughout the game, Michigan played strong defense and did an excellent job of contesting nearly every shot the Terriers took throughout the game.

    Wofford regularly used its pattern offense to attempt to find the right shot that could take advantage of Michigan's offense, but the Wolverines did not let Wofford have any easy shots.

    Michigan held Wofford to 18-of-53 from the field. The Terriers were atrocious from beyond the arc, making just one of 19 three-pointers. There's no way a No. 15 seed is going to pull off the upset with that kind of poor shooting.

Bench Play Lacking

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Teams that usually have the best chance of winning in the NCAA tournament or making a long run usually get a solid contribution from the bench. Depth is a big part of most championship teams.

    The Wolverines did not get much production from the bench in their victory over Wofford. Zak Irvin averages 6.7 points per game and shoots 42.2 percent from the field during the regular season. He had a poor night against Wofford, making one of five shots from the field and scoring two points. Jon Horford had four points off the bench, while Spike Albrecht could not score.

    That was the extent of Michigan's bench contribution, and that could cause big problems as the tournament moves along.

Big Effort by Morgan

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Jordan Morgan came through with a huge and unexpected performance in the win over Wofford. Morgan scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, and he also led the Wolverines with 10 rebounds.

    Morgan used his strength to bull past the Terriers when he went to the hoop, and he also asserted himself on the boards throughout the game.

    Morgan averages 5.7 PPG and 4.8 RPG, so his performance in Michigan's first NCAA tournament game was a pleasant surprise for head coach John Beilein. If he can continue to assert himself, he will take the pressure off of Stauskas, LeVert and Glenn Robinson III.