Juwan Howard's Michigan announces arrival with wins over UNC, Gonzaga in Battle 4 Atlantis

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
Michigan will be ranked next week. The only question is how high. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Michigan will be ranked next week. The only question is how high. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

In a college basketball season that has so far seen no dominant teams emerge, it is a preseason unranked team that suddenly has the best resume in the country. And a coach who is very quickly looking like the perfect hire for the program.

Michigan basketball re-entered the national discussion on Friday with a dominant 82-64 win over No. 8 Gonzaga, just a day after they rolled over No. 6 UNC while being led by first-year head coach Juwan Howard.

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Senior point guard Zavier Simpson once again keyed the win with 13 points, 13 assists and six rebounds, while forward Isaiah Livers led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Center Jon Teske also chipped in a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

After that kind of day, all you can do is dance.

It was a very nice week for the Wolverines, who are still undefeated at 7-0 and are now the lone undefeated team with two top-10 wins.

Dream start for Juwan Howard

All of that is pretty good for a team that received only two votes in the preseason AP Poll and had to replace three double-digit scorers from last season — Iggy Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews — not to mention head coach John Beilein, who had led the Wolverines to two NCAA finals in his 12-year tenure in Ann Arbor.

To replace Beilein, Michigan turned to Howard, an alum known for his time as a member of the vaunted Fab Five in the early ‘90s. It seemed like a risky hire at the time, as Howard had no previous coaching experience at the college level. It’s already paying dividends on the court.

“I’ve been through a lot of adversity,” Howard said on a broadcast interview after the game. “This is not new to me, man. Talk about pressure? Yeah, I embrace pressure. I’m not going to run from it. I’ve done this all my life. Basketball is something I’ve been doing since I was six years old.”

Michigan will definitely be getting enough votes to be ranked this week. The only question is how high, and it’s hard to see a ceiling when you look at their resume. It could at least be high enough that next week’s game against current No. 2 Louisville will be a must-watch.

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