In the past week, the Michigan men’s basketball team has become familiar with leaving the friendly confines of Crisler Arena. But in their first true away game, a matchup with Virginia in Charlottesville, the Wolverines won’t have the benefit of a split crowd — or mid-80s and sunshine — like Maui had to offer.

And if Michigan (5-1) shows early signs of any remaining jet lag, watch for the Cavaliers and their unconventional pack-line defense to pounce.

“It’s just so good,” said Michigan coach John Beilein of the defense. “It’s not like pressure defense, where you can get backdoors or something. It’s just really difficult to score against them.”

The pack-line defense, used almost exclusively by Virginia coach Tony Bennett, emphasizes on-ball pressure, while the other four defenders sag inside the 3-point line to form a mock perimeter. The objective is to take away any penetration or backdoor cuts — both of which flourished for Michigan at the Maui Invitational last week. Penetration was key in freshman point guard Trey Burke’s success, as he was able to drive into the lane with ease and create scoring opportunities.

The Wolverines had an unusual weekend after returning to the mainland. After flying back on a Friday red-eye flight and having Saturday off, the team’s preparation time for Virginia and its defense has been limited.

Like Michigan, the Cavaliers (5-1) have a young roster, featuring just three seniors. But one of those seniors, All-ACC forward Mike Scott, is the main reason Virginia was the preseason pick to finish fourth in a strong ACC field this year. After an ankle injury sidelined Scott last season, the big man is going to be the toughest post matchup the Wolverines have faced so far.

Scott, who was recruited by Beilein at West Virginia, is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. Virginia’s second offensive option, guard Joe Harris, poses a major threat from beyond the arc. Though the sophomore is shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range this year, his presence must be respected after he shot 42 percent last year.

“I’d seen them way back, and they’ve gone through a transition, now (in their) third year with Coach Bennett,” Beilein said. “They’re very much playing like the Wisconsins and the Wisconsin-Green Bays. Just a difficult, difficult team to play against, both offensively and defensively.”

Heading into Maui, the offense and particularly the play of Burke were major question marks. But in just one week, Michigan’s situation looks brighter.

“I do see some things that are very promising,” Beilein said. “I liked how we played with great passion and energy and confidence against some really good teams. Biggest question was Trey Burke, how is he going to do now that he’s out there. I think he performed fairly well.”

However, the Wolverines’ post play continued its inconsistency in the Maui Invitational. While sophomore forward Jon Horford showed glimpses of the potential Beilein has raved about, sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz and redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Morgan struggled.

Morgan found himself in early foul trouble in two of the three games in Maui.

“I think (Morgan’s) disappointed,” Beilein said. “Quite frankly … he’s so into the game and the physicality of it that he gets caught on the second end of a lot of things.

“I just want him to be able to be in the game and be able to play at 100 percent without having to worry about that.”

Meanwhile, Smotrycz was held scoreless in each of the tournament’s games and has been criticized for forcing shots.

“When he lets the game come to him a little bit more, he’s a far more efficient player,” Beilein said. “He knows it. And he’s just got to continue to work at it. When you’re out there, it’s a different thing. So he’s adjusted a lot in the past, he’ll adjust again.”

Aside from continuing its momentum after a third-place finish in Maui, Michigan will again look to pick up a win in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Last year, the Wolverines went on the road and knocked off Clemson, a key factor in gaining confidence.

“It can be very contagious and you just need to win one,” said Beilein of the importance of winning road games. “(We have to focus on) making foul shots late, all those things. We’ve had to make foul shots late a little bit, not as much as probably some teams may have at this point. But now you make them on the road, that’s another deal.”

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