Three weeks into this watershed season, the Michigan men’s basketball team sits at 4-0. 

The Wolverines’ performances have varied from a late-game scare in the opener to Appalachian State to two blowouts against lowly mid-majors Houston Baptist and Elon, with a solid victory against Creighton sandwiched in between. 

If there’s been one common denominator between all of these games though, it’s the location. Michigan has yet to play outside the confines of Crisler Center. 

That all changes on Wednesday, when the Wolverines tip off against Iowa State in the first-round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas. 

For Michigan — a program very much in transition with new coach Juwan Howard and a slew of underclassmen playing key roles — a trip to the Bahamas may seem like the last thing it needs. Having home-court advantage has likely helped the Wolverines slip past the Bluejays, and maybe even the Mountaineers, unscatched. 

Ask anyone around the team though, and they’ll tell you it’s quite the opposite. Michigan is relishing the chance to leave Ann Arbor behind for a few days. 

“We’re gonna be on the road for the first time away from our home crowd so it’s gonna be a little different,” said junior forward Isaiah Livers. “I think it’s gonna be exciting. I’m excited to see how Coach Howard treats a ‘business trip,’ as he calls it.”

“It’s that simple,” Howard said. “Bahamas is Bahamas. We’re approaching it like we’re gonna take care of business.”

In order to accomplish that goal, Michigan will have to knock off a number of high-profile programs. Iowa State, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Seton Hall and Oregon make up a stacked field, with four of them in the AP Top-25. Still though, Howard and his coaching staff isn’t expecting a drop-off. 

“To a man I’m looking for our group to be a competitive group,” Howard said. “We know that every opponent we’re gonna face is good, just like the opponents we face here at home. It’s only gonna prepare us for the Big Ten season, which is right around the corner.”

Not only will the Wolverines face better competition than they have thus far, they’ll have less than a day to prepare for each. 

In typical early-season fashion, Michigan has had three or more days between each of its first four games — before Creighton and Houston Baptist, it had an entire week. Projecting forward though, the Wolverines won’t have the benefit of such gaps. From their perspective though, they might as well acclimate to it now. 

“We prepare for it,” said sophomore forward Colin Castleton. “It’s just something you gotta be used to. All the other teams do it, just like us, so we gotta just be ready and prepare for and practice every day. So it’s just like, go out there and play.”

Added Howard: “One game at a time, we understand that we cannot be hanging out at the beach enjoying the fun in the sun. I truly wish (we’d) have that moment, but when we get there, we’ll have that practice and start locking in for our opponents.”

Teams like Michigan partake in these types of tournaments in order to test itself against high-caliber, non-conference opponents. While, the Wolverines might not win the Battle 4 Atlantis, they’ll be reaping the benefits later on. 

“It’s beautiful when you go on the road,” Howard said. “It really helps your team form that mental toughness as well as that togetherness. I think that’s a perfect opportunity for us at a perfect time where we can bond, get to know one another.”

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