Men's Basketball

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis downplayed the rivalry with Michigan State ahead of Sunday's game.

A mere two days before his team’s biggest game of the season, John Beilein started talking about how he was glad Michigan had gotten back from Minnesota a little earlier than usual. Then he talked about the challenge of a short turnaround.

Junior center Jon Teske must stay on the floor against Michigan State Sunday.

On Friday afternoon, Teske stood near the door of Crisler Center’s media room explaining the intricacies of defending without fouling — a concept Michigan coach John Beilein has emphasized to him for three years now, and one the Spartans will undoubtedly test on Sunday.

Forward Colin Castleton forced a travel and grabbed a rebound in Thursday's outing at Minnesota.

Here was the sophomore guard, after having scored a game-high 22 points and five 3-pointers, refusing the honor usually reserved for a performance of that caliber. There was someone who he felt deserved it more.

“All y’all gotta ask him a question,” Poole said, gesturing at Colin Castleton. “I’m not answering nobody's questions ‘til you ask him.”

Junior guard Zavier Simpson had 12 assists and 6 rebounds in the Wolverines' 69-60 win at Minnesota.

“We just gotta be extremely locked in and come out to play every night,” said sophomore Jordan Poole, relaying their message. “Take the exact same approach. It can be hard if you go and play a team that doesn't have that many wins in the league or you beat a team already earlier in the year.”

Thursday night, faced with an opponent who checked both those boxes, the Wolverines did exactly that, beating Minnesota, 69-60.

Michigan in a game against Minnesota at the Williams Arena Thursday. Michigan won 69-60.

Opened in 1928, Williams is college basketball’s sixth-oldest arena and one of its most unique. When stacked up to modern venues and their amenities, it doesn’t seem all that sexy, but it’s steeped in history and proudly displays all of its 91 years. It is what it’s always been.

On Thursday night, Michigan went to Minneapolis and beat the host Golden Gophers, 69-60, moving to 13-3 in Big Ten play and 24-3 overall. The Wolverines, too, were who they’ve always been.

Cassius Winston and Michigan State went 0-2 against Zavier Simpson and Michigan last season.

This matchup is personal, at least on one side. On the other?

“Yeah, definitely,” Winston said. “Like I said, Michigan game. It’s always gonna be personal.”

Michigan defeated Seton Hall, 80-79, in overtime to capture the program's lone NCAA Championship.

Thirty years later, it remains the only national title banner hanging at Crisler Center. And 30 years later, players and coaches from that team will reunite before Michigan faces Michigan State on Sunday. The Daily spoke to many of them to put together the story of a one-of-a-kind season.

“It’s 30 years later, and people still talk about it,” said Terry Mills, a junior center on that team. “Every time I come to the arena, I’ll walk out of the arena, you got people there like, ‘Thanks for ‘89.’ ”

Zavier Simpson has been shooting 76 percent from the charity stripe in Big Ten action.

Simpson no longer fits his reputation. In Big Ten play, Simpson has hit 22-of-28 from the charity stripe — a 76 percent clip. And against Maryland, he continued the trend, sinking both free throws to extend the Michigan men’s basketball team’s lead.

Redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews vocalized his frustrations after Michigan's loss at Penn State last week.

“He’s got a sense of urgency to win this year,” Beilein said. “And make a decision after the season, but win this year so that he doesn’t look back and say, ‘I didn’t do enough in my senior year.’ ”

Junior center Jon Teske scored seven points in the final five minutes against Maryland on Saturday.

Zavier Simpson bided his time, wrapping behind the basket before splitting two defenders with a no-look bounce pass. Just as the pass reached its apex, Jon Teske came streaking into the lane, collected the ball and emphatically slammed it home, giving Michigan a double-digit lead it would never relinquish.

That scene came late in the second half of the Wolverines’ 65-52 win over Maryland on Saturday, but it’s emblematic of a larger trend that has come to define their offense over the past three months. Simpson — Michigan’s offensive conductor — leads all Big Ten point guards in assist-to-turnover rate, while Teske has flourished as its interior linchpin, averaging 10.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in conference play.