The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 18 of 67

MAY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 19 tion. But just as they shrugged off preseason prognostications that had them finishing anywhere from sixth to ninth in the conference, they yawned at the critics predicting an early exit. "I don't care if the public thinks we're going to win," freshman center Hunter Dickinson said with a laugh after learning U-M had earned the fourth No. 1 seed. "We take each game one at a time and in a slow grind. It's easy to look forward to the Final Four and national championship, but you can't get there without winning the first game. "We're doing a good job of not fo- cusing on what the media says, be- cause we don't care. If we listened to them, we would have finished sixth in the Big Ten." Beilein often used to say getting out of conference and meeting new op- ponents was liberating. The physical Big Ten, with its clutching and grab- bing, and detailed scouting reports, is tough to deal with on a night-in, night-out basis. While Howard and Co. navigated it beautifully, they were also ready for a change of scenery. Without question, they entered the Big Ten Tournament hoping and ex- pecting to win it. The Saturday loss, however, was also a respite from a three-week stretch in which the Wol- verines played seven games in 21 days. "In the Big Ten, there weren't two days to prepare," assistant coach Phil Martelli said heading into the NCAA Tournament. "Like in our situation [the first weekend], Mount St. Mary's or Texas Southern, they're going to have one day to prepare. [Second- round opponent] St. Bonaventure or LSU, if we win Saturday [March 20] for Monday night [March 22], they have one day to prepare. "In the Big Ten, these teams basi- Michigan was driven throughout its NCAA Tournament run by a team effort, with four different players scoring double-digit points in three of the four games. PHOTO BY JAMIE SCHWABEROW

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