No. 16 Michigan aims to extend perfect start vs. No. 19 Northwestern

·3 min read

The No. 16 Michigan Wolverines look to continue their perfect start to Big Ten play when they host the No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday.

The Wolverines (8-0, 3-0 Big Ten) are the only team in the Big Ten that are still undefeated in the conference and overall. The Wildcats (6-2, 3-1) were atop the conference with Michigan before losing to No. 10 Iowa on Tuesday.

Michigan earned its third Big Ten win on New Year's Eve when it traveled to Maryland and defeated the Terrapins 84-73. Hunter Dickinson led the charge with 26 points on 10 of 11 shooting and 11 rebounds.

"We can't get too high, can't get too low, but enjoy the 26 because that's a lot of points in college," Mike Smith said of his teammate. "It was a silent 26. It wasn't like a loud 26, but I have to celebrate it with him."

Smith also tied his season-high with 16 points.

Dickinson has had a tremendous start to his freshman season. He has scored in double digits every game this season and is averaging 16.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

He has elevated his play since Big Ten play started, which has correlated with his introduction to the starting lineup. In three conference games, he is averaging 19.7 points and 11 rebounds per game.

It has not been a one-player show, though, for the Wolverines. Isaiah Livers is averaging 14.4 points per game and shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc and Franz Wagner is averaging 12.0 points and 6.6 rebounds.

In its first loss of the Big Ten season, Northwestern could not match the firepower of Iowa's offense. The Wildcats had no answers for Jordan Bohannon and his 24 points as the Hawkeyes outscored Northwestern by 12 over the final 10 minutes.

The loss comes after victories over Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State.

"Before we came into this four-game gauntlet over 10 days, if you told me I would have come out of it 3-1, I would have been very happy," coach Chris Collins said. "Obviously, with 3-0 you get greedy and want to get the fourth one."

Pete Nance played arguably the best game of his career against the Hawkeyes and National Player of the Year favorite Luka Garza. Nance had a career-high 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting.

The junior is one of four players on Northwestern's roster averaging more than 10 points per game. At the top of the list is sharpshooter Miller Kopp.

Kopp is averaging 14.6 points per game while shooting remarkedly efficient. He is shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 57.6 percent on 33 3-point attempts.

Despite giving up 87 points to Iowa, Northwestern is still holding opponents to only 39 percent shooting from the field and 29.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Since Collins took over the Wildcats before the 2013-14 season, Northwestern is 3-8 against the Wolverines. Three of those losses were by two points.

Last year's game wasn't close. Led by 17 points from Livers and 18 points by Eli Brooks, Michigan blew out the Wildcats by 25 points, 79-54.

--Field Level Media