The Michigan women’s basketball team stands at rest on a set of metaphorical train tracks outside of the Crisler Center. Meanwhile, the Hawkeye Express, which left the Iowa City station a week ago, is running at an exponentially increasing rate toward Ann Arbor. The two are set to collide on Thursday at 8 p.m. — what will the Wolverines have to do to derail Iowa?

The collision — Michigan’s upcoming game against the Hawkeyes — will be a study in athletics’s corollary concept of momentum. On the physics side, Sir Issac Newton posed that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force and that when two objects collide, the one with the higher momentum and larger mass will better keep its course.

If we are to believe that the same holds true in athletics — holding that a team’s momentum and mass increase with each consecutive victory — then the team with a longer winning streak will keep its course. In their last five games, the Hawkeyes are 5-0 and the Wolverines are 2-3. Do the math.

Now, the corollary is not perfect. Some opponents carry more weight than others, based on the theory of athletic relativity, and therefore certain wins and losses more dramatically affect a team’s velocity — these are called upsets. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Iowa has pulled off two major upsets in its five-game stretch — one against No. 17 Purdue two weeks ago and the other against Michigan State on Sunday. In more physics, the wins have transformed Iowa from a handcart to a bullet train in less than two weeks.

While Michigan awaits this unavoidable collision, the team has been building its own arsenal to prepare the ever-nearing Hawkeyes. The Wolverines are coming off of a bye week, which has given them valuable time to rest and regroup before this final stretch of the regular season.

“The best part about the bye is that we got Sunday off,” said senior guard Courtney Boylan. “That’s given us Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for Iowa. The extra time was definitely needed. When it gets this late in the season, our legs need a break.”

Boylan is not exaggerating when she uses the word “need.” It appears Michigan will need to be running on all cylinders if they hope to crack Iowa’s defense — a formation that Michigan coach Kevin Borseth calls “The Buzz.”

The Buzz, according to Borseth, is a free-for-all 2-1-2 set designed to funnel guards down the middle of the court, stop the dribble and create turnovers by taking away the passing lanes. The scheme has been particularly effective for the Hawkeyes in their recent run because the formation is rarely seen in the Big Ten and often takes teams by surprise.

There’s a reason Borseth has a name for the defense: he runs it all the time. This may be the weak spot in Iowa’s runaway locomotive that the Wolverines have been looking for.

“Most teams struggle against The Buzz because they’ve never seen it before,” Boylan said. “Lucky for us, we’ve had the pleasure of using it against other teams in the past, and because we’ve run it against teams in the past, we have a couple of things that will hopefully work.

“One of the ways to break it is by going up the sides and not getting trapped in the middle. We’ve been working on ways to score out of those kind of formations, and I think it’s going to be really good overall.”

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