The Michigan Wolverines took the floor for the first time in 2017-’18 on Saturday evening. Their opponent, the Ospreys of North Florida were playing their second game in as many nights. The first game in their back to back resulted in a loss to Michigan State, 98-66. It took a little while for Michigan to get going, but as the second half progressed, they pulled away.
Eventually, the Wolverines took home their first victory of the season by a final score of 86-66.
The first half was a little concerning, with Michigan only taking a two point lead into the locker room at the break. Much of that may have to do with the Wolverines getting their regular season sea legs. Ultimately, Michigan showed they were the better team as the second half progressed.
Here is what we learned from the game:
What We Learned
Duncan Robinson is ready to be a primary offensive weapon.
The senior guard saw a drop in minutes last season. He only played 20 minutes per game last year compared to roughly 29 minutes in 2015-’16. For a Michigan team that suffered significant losses in the off season, Robinson is being looked upon for primary offensive contributions on a nightly basis.
He took great strides in becoming that contributor on Saturday night.
Robinson poured in a game high 21 points along with seven rebounds. Perhaps most importantly, he started strong from beyond the arc. Robinson shot four or seven from three in this game. That high clip translates to future games and establishes a high confidence level early in the season.
For now, it seems as though Duncan Robinson is ready to take the lead in this Michigan offense.
The Wolverines may have found their “Big Three”
While Robinson was extremely impressive in the opener, Michigan had other great performers on Saturday night. Moritz Wagner, a staple in the Wolverine offense last year turned in a double-double on Saturday. He finished the game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. As many fans know, Wagner is projected to be the top offensive weapon in John Beilein’s arsenal. He certainly proved his worth to this team in their season opener.
On top of Robinson and Wagner, Charles Matthews proved to be a valuable asset for Michigan. The junior racked up 20 points on nine of 19 shooting in this game. Coupling those three together may prove to be the bulk of Michigan’s scoring as the season rolls along.
Did the Wolverines find their “big three” against North Florida? Only time will tell.
North Florida’s schedule does not get any easier.
You would think that a back to back against Michigan State and Michigan would be more than enough for Matthew Driscoll and the Ospreys. However, it does not get any easier for the Ospreys, who are looking for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2014-’15.
Their upcoming non-conference slate features games against VCU, number eight ranked Florida, 13th ranked Miami, and Missouri. Sure, it is exciting to get the opportunity to play these big schools, but is it really helping? In all honesty, the chances that the Ospreys win any of the games listed above are slim, so how does that help the team? Maybe I am missing something.
One thing is for sure though, North Florida will be bringing home some fairly nice checks with lots of zeros on them from these games. That may be the underlying purpose of scheduling these tough contests.
Michigan was favored coming in, so seeing them win by 20 points was not too surprising. Their chances of winning were only bolstered by the fact that their opponent played the number two ranked team in the country the night before. It may have taken them some time to get their gears moving, but I think there were plenty of positives to be taken away. Despite their off season losses, the Michigan Wolverines still have a chance to make some Big Ten noise.