Michigan opened its season on Friday night with a home game against Division II in-state foe, Northern Michigan. The Wolverines were eager to start the next season after coming off a 16-16 performance in the year prior. With a few players returning from injury and a few newcomers, most expected Michigan to get back on track in an early season matchup against what should have been an overmatched opponent.
Ultimately, the Wolverines were able to take care of business and move on with a win by the final score of 70-44. Michigan relied on Aubrey Dawkins and Caris LeVert significantly in route to the win.
With that, let's see what we learned from the game.
What We Learned
1. Caris LeVert is Back.
Michigan was never a great team last season, but things became particularly difficult when star guard Caris LeVert went down for the year following a home win over Northwestern. Though the Wolverines did score a few nice wins down the stretch, the team was just never the same once LeVert went down.
Well, LeVert returned for his first regular season game since his injury on Friday and played very well. In fact, LeVert was easily the best player on the court, ending the night with 18 points, five assists, and four rebounds.. Not only was he a consistent scoring threat from three point range, inside, and in transition, but he also did the little things right as well. His passing was crisp, his defense was on, and he had a few nice rebounds on the night.
Many were curious about how well LeVert could play after coming off some injuries, but he truly played at an All-Big Ten level on Friday night. Whether that holds off will have to be seen, but he had a tremendous game.
2. Aubrey Dawkins Could Be Set For A Breakout Season.
One of Michigan's best players down the stretch last season was true freshman Aubrey Dawkins and as such, most expected him to be one of the team's key players heading into 2015-16. Well, after starting slow on Friday night, he heated up in the second half. Overall, Dawkins put up 15 points after shooting 6-for-7 on the night.
The great thing about how Dawkins played is that he let the game come to him. Whether it was a nice runner in the paint, hitting a great pull-up from three point range, or throwing down an alley-oop, he never forced shots. With Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, and Zak Irvin (sat out due to injury), the Wolverines don't need Dawkins to dominate the team's possessions. If he can keep up these kind of performances, he would be huge for Michigan's efficiency.
3. Moritz Wagner Is Going To Be An Option.
The Wolverines only added one scholarship recruit this offseason and it was four-star prospect Moritz Wagner. Most view him as a player with a ton of potential, but as a bit undersized this season. Though many were wondering whether Wagner would redshirt the season, Beilein gave fans an answer on Friday night.
Wagner entered the game late in the second half. He didn't play particularly great with just five points and two rebounds, but he was active and provided energy off the bench. There's no doubt that Wagner still has to add size and strength to be a great frontcourt player in the Big Ten, but he showed flashes, which is about all one can ask of a freshman in his first career college game.
There wasn't too much surprising from this one. Michigan entered as a team ranked in the top 25 and were never in danger against Northern Michigan. There were points where the Wildcats would close the gap, but never anytime where it looked like the Wolverines were in serious danger.
Michigan will now move on to a matchup with Elon on Monday. One of the more interesting things to watch for in that matchup will be the return of Zak Irvin, who sat out Friday night's game due to injury.