Iowa v Michigan

No. 21 Michigan a legitimate Big Ten title contender after beating No. 10 Iowa

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Nik Stauskas had 26 points, five boards and five assists while Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III combined for 26 points and 16 boards as N0. 21 Michigan stayed undefeated in the Big Ten with a 75-67 win over No. 10 Iowa on Wednesday evening.

It’s the eighth straight win for the Wolverines. The last six came against Big Ten teams. Two last two came against top ten teams, one of which was on the road at Wisconsin.

I think it’s safe to say that Michigan has worked out their post-Mitch McGary kinks, and the credit has to be given to Nik Stauskas.

I know, I know, I know.

I wrote this exact same post on Saturday, so I won’t rewrite the entire thing but it bears repeating: Stauskas is a stud. He’s thrust himself into the Player of the Year conversation, particularly in the Big Ten, and he’s going to shoot up NBA Draft boards before too long. A 6-foot-6 athlete with unlimited range, Stauskas has proven this season that he’s so much more than that. He’s terrific in the pick-and-roll, having been designated as the guy that Beilein will primarily run his offense through, and he’s showcased a passing ability that few knew he had.

Throw in Robinson’s newfound aggression, Caris LeVert’s continued development offensively and Jordan Morgan’s reincarnation, and the Wolverines legitimately look like a Big Ten contender, although that tends to happen when you knock off two of the three teams that were sitting above you in the pecking order. It may not stop there, either. The Wolverines get No. 3 Michigan State on Saturday. That will be fun.

Back to Wednesday, what might be the most impressive part of Wednesday’s win had little to do with what Michigan did offensively and a lot to do with what they did to Iowa defensively. The Hawkeyes managed just 67 points, which was less noteworthy than the fact that they managed to hold Iowa to just 65 possessions.

Iowa has one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. They are not only the third-most efficient offense, according to KenPom, they also happen to average 73 possessions per game, No. 12 nationally. What that means is that in addition to being able to score at a highly-efficient rate, they score quickly. They don’t have an issue playing an uptempo game.

Michigan was able to take that away, and it had a lot to do with this win.

If they can continue to control tempo and defend the way they did tonight, they can absolutely win the Big Ten title.

Saturday’s intra-state battle just got REAL.

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.