For the second consecutive year, the Michigan men’s basketball team is 7-0.
And for the second consecutive year, that record means very little.
In the 2005-06 campaign, the Wolverines reeled off seven consecutive victories against weak competition, only to see an unblemished record go down the drain when they first faced a ranked opponent (UCLA).
So far this season, the Maize and Blue have followed the same template. Michigan has feasted on teams that are either shorter, slower or just plain worse. The Wolverines have yet to face an opponent from one of the six power conferences, nor have they played outside the friendly confines of Crisler Arena.
But all that will change tonight when the Wolverines take on North Carolina State in the opening game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
It will be Michigan’s first road game of the year, and its first opportunity to gauge its progress heading into the meat of the nonconference schedule.
“We’ve shown the ability to play at a high level at times, and we’ve also shown that we’re still very much a work in progress,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “The road test is more along the lines of where I’m curious to evaluate the team. Obviously, (North Carolina) State is going to be a good challenge for us, and a good ball club. Being on the road against anyone is always a challenge.”
Michigan last faced the Wolfpack in 2003, also as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. In that game, then-freshman Dion Harris scored 14 points off the bench, leading the Wolverines to a 68-61 win.
And although they are not ranked, the Wolfpack (4-0) also come into tonight’s game undefeated, having won their first four games of the season. But like the Wolverines, North Carolina State is relatively untested, and is likely still adjusting to new head coach Sidney Lowe, a former Detroit Pistons assistant coach.
Lowe counts on his starting lineup to do the bulk of the scoring. All five starters have double-digit scoring averages, and four play over 30 minutes per game. Junior Gavin Grant and senior Engin Ats