In the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy uttered her famous line: “There’s no place like home.”
And while the Michigan women’s basketball team is from a different place and time, it would certainly agree with Dorothy’s sentiment.
With their 80-54 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday, the Wolverines (6-2 Big Ten, 17-5 overall) are now a perfect 11-0 at home in the 2016-17 season and sport a 19-game winning streak at Crisler Center. Michigan has not lost a game in its own arena since a 93-81 defeat at the hands of Nebraska on Jan. 24, 2016.
“Our players were confident,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico after the game. “They showed a level of maturity. They showed a level of leadership. Our seniors and juniors have really taken the younger kids under their wings.”
Though Michigan’s win over the Wildcats — who are currently ranked 44th in the Ratings Percentage Index — was one of the more impressive ones the Wolverines have pulled off this year, it was not the only quality triumph they have nabbed at home.
Michigan topped Minnesota on Jan. 15, Indiana on Jan. 10 and Ohio on Dec. 13. Each of these wins have contributed to the Wolverines’ quest to earn their first NCAA Tournament berth in four years.
“We know we have a great opportunity in front of us,” said senior guard Siera Thompson. “It’s very exciting, but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself because then you start dropping games that you can win.”
Michigan’s success this season has paid dividends in attendance figures, too, as it is on pace for a 20 percent increase over last season.
However, the Wolverines’ good fortunes at Crisler might leave them wondering what might have been, as they faced both No. 3 Maryland and No. 15 Ohio State on the road. Michigan held leads in both contests, including late in the fourth quarter against the Terrapins, before ultimately losing 96-87 to the Buckeyes and 93-80 to Maryland.
While the Wolverines won’t have the opportunity to see if playing on their home court would have made a difference against either squad, they may at least earn the opportunity to upset one or both teams in Indianapolis — on a neutral court. Though Barnes Arico didn’t want to look that far ahead, she did admit that she pines for shots at redemption.
“I’m (thinking) one game at a time,” Barnes Arico said. “But we talked about it after we played Maryland and after we played Ohio State — how close we are. We’ve got to get better at some things, and we know the things we have to get better at. We have to take care of our next eight or nine games and then hopefully after that point, we’ll have the opportunity to match up with those guys on a neutral court.”
Until then, Michigan will strive to extend its home winning streak and further prove that there really is no place like home.