The Wolverine

March 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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78 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2021 M ichigan head coach Juwan Howard admitted his first ques- tion after the state recommended a shutdown of U-M athletics for two weeks was, "Why?" Nobody on his team or staff had tested positive for COVID-19, after all, and they were taking every precaution to keep their special season alive. "I was disappointed. We all were," he said. "But we understood the big picture. Health and safety is always No. 1. At times we kind of ques- tioned it, but we have to respect our leadership in place. "We understood the decision made was for keeping us all safe from this virus that's sort of winning at times." His team returned to practice Feb. 8 rusty, he admitted, and he wasn't sure what to expect when they returned to action at Wisconsin Feb. 14 for their first game in 23 days. He did know his team would give its all, though — and that's exactly what he got from them in a critical, come- from-behind road win. The 67-59 victory further solidified the Wolverines' standing as one of the best bets for a Big Ten champion- ship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The selection commit- tee put the Wolverines as the No. 3 team overall in its early bracket re- veal the day before the game, and U-M did its part to live up to it with the win over the No. 21 Badgers. Senior forward Isaiah Livers kept U-M close early and was outstanding all game in finishing with 20 points, while freshman Hunter Dickinson added 11 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots, and sophomore Franz Wagner chipped in 14 points in the victory. "I'm impressed with how our guys responded after the [pause], not mak- ing excuses for themselves but com- ing out here and competing on the road," Howard said after the game. "A tough win against a very good team in Wisconsin. "Winning a game like this on the road says a lot. It says a lot about the character of this group … we did a really good job of staying locked in to not allowing open shots, limiting our mistakes defensively and limit- ing them to one shot opportunity at the basket." The Wolverines stood 14-1 overall after the victory, and their 9-1 mark in the Big Ten would normally indicate the midway point of the conference season. Five games were postponed, however, and it was unlikely they'd make them all up. Home games with Indiana, Michigan State and Illinois, and road games with Northwestern and Penn State would need to be made up in order to get to 20 confer- ence games, and Howard noted the health and safety of his team would come first. Eleven games in 22 days was prob- ably not in the cards. That's what made the victory at Wisconsin all the more important, and his team re- sponded by coming back from down 39-27 at the half for the win. "When we have our practice, good things are going to happen because of having positive people," Howard said. "That's part of this team; been all there from day one. It's one game, just one game …" But one big win, he added, and another high point in a remarkable season to date. — Chris Balas   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Long Layoff Disappoints, But Doesn't Slow, Wolverines Head coach Juwan Howard and his team returned from the athletic department's two-week pause with a 67-59 win over No. 21 Wisconsin. The Wolverines rallied from a 12-point deficit at halftime. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 2020-21 U-M MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Results/Time (ET) Nov. 25 Bowling Green W, 96-82 Nov. 29 Oakland W, 81-71 (OT) Dec. 2 Ball State W, 84-65 Dec. 6 Central Florida W, 80-58 Dec. 9 Toledo W, 91-71 Dec. 13 Penn State* W, 62-58 Dec. 25 at Nebraska* W, 80-69 Dec. 31 at Maryland* W, 84-73 Jan. 3 Northwestern* W, 85-66 Jan. 6 Minnesota* W, 82-57 Jan. 12 Wisconsin* W, 77-54 Jan. 16 at Minnesota* L, 75-57 Jan. 19 Maryland* W, 87-63 Jan. 22 at Purdue* W, 70-53 Jan. 27 at Penn State* Postponed Jan. 30 Indiana* Postponed Feb. 3 at Northwestern* Postponed Feb. 6 Michigan State* Postponed Feb. 11 Illinois* Postponed Feb. 14 at Wisconsin* W, 67-59 Feb. 18 Rutgers* (FS1) 9 p.m. Feb. 21 at Ohio State* (CBS) 1 p.m. Feb. 27 at Indiana* (FOX) 12 p.m. Mar. 4 Iowa* (ESPN/2) TBA Mar. 7 at Michigan State* (CBS) TBA Mar. 10-14 Big Ten Tournament^ (BTN/CBS) Subject to change; * Big Ten game; ^ at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; BTN — Big Ten Network; FS1 — FOX Sports 1

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