It didn’t take long for No. 7 Michigan to look like they were overrated heading into a season where they will be replacing their starting back court from a year ago.
The Wolverines went into Ames, IA, and experienced Hilton Magic first hand, losing to Iowa State 77-70. Nik Stauskas had 20 points and six assists, but he was really the only guy that found a rhythm offensively. Glenn Robinson III was 4-for-14 from the floor, Mitch McGary was clearly laboring and is not yet in shape, and Derrick Walton looked promising but, at this point, is very much a freshman.
But in all honesty, what did you expect to happen?
Let me lay it out for you like this: Trey Burke was not only the National Player of the Year a season ago, he was by far the most valuable player in the country. Everything Michigan did offensively last season was built around Burke. It’s the same thing with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Anyone with a fantasy football team can tell you that’s not the same group without their star running the show. Burke was the same way. He made everyone on that team better.
They are trying to work their way through replacing that talent with a freshman playing his first college game against real competition and a sophomore that picked the Wolverines over Appalachian State. That’s not an easy thing to do, particularly when it is happening in a place that just so happens to have arguably the best home-court advantage in the country.
Their preseason all-american center, McGary, has gone a full practice once all season long. Once! There’s no way that he can possibly be in game-shape at this point, let along asking him to be in sync with this group. That issue gets magnified by the fact that this was the first time they had all played together in a competitive game.
I know I’m making excuses for Michigan here, and that’s not what my goal is. Iowa State played a terrific game, Melvin Ejim was awesome and Hilton was as magical as ever. The Cyclones deserve every bit of that win.
But this is not the Michigan team that we will see come March. This is not a finished product. They will get better, and when they do — when Walton has his legs under him, when McGary is back in shape, when everyone is on the same page offensively — they will be as good as they were advertised in the preseason.