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Michigan basketball could revive tournament hopes against Penn State

Despite a rocky start, the Wolverines are still in the March Madness conversation if they can beat the Nittany Lions.



Michigan basketball transfer portal Jose Perez
Dec 29, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard on the sideline in the first half against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Just over a week ago, most fans had lost all hope for Michigan basketball this season. In fairness, this feeling was justified seeing as the Wolverines were 7-5 overall and had just dropped a home matchup to Central Michigan — a mid-tier MAC program. Still, Michigan got back on track and faces a tough Penn State team in Crisler tonight.

Michigan basketball has a less-than-ideal start

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but despite starting 3-0 and looking solid in November, Michigan basketball has faced a rough start in 2022-23. After dismantling the Pitt Panthers, Michigan got run out of the building against Arizona State and has lost another four games since then. The Wolverines his rock bottom just over a week ago when Central Michigan came into Crisler Center and beat U-M, 63-61.

This is nothing new for Juwan Howard’s teams though, and at this point, Michigan fans should be used to this bipolar basketball. Even last year, a season in which Michigan made a run to the Sweet 16, the Wolverines entered the tournament just over .500 as an 11 seed.

Whatever was said after the CMU game clearly worked, seeing as Michigan basketball came out swinging against Maryland last Sunday night.

Wolverines are back on track in 2023

To kick off 2023, Michigan basketball decided to obliterate a solid Maryland team. The Terrapins came into Ann Arbor with a 10-3 record and some solid wins under their belts, such as a blowout win over Louisville and a 71-66 win over No. 16 Illinois. Despite a solid resume and record, the Wolverines went all out and floored Maryland, 81-46, in an impressive bounce-back game.

The Maryland win improved Michigan basketball to 8-5 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Somehow, despite a 6-5 non-conference record, the Wolverines are still 1st in the Big Ten. Tonight, Michigan will face one of its biggest challenges yet: Penn State. Although the Nittany Lions are not usually a solid basketball team, new head coach Micah Shrewsberry has Penn State playing at a high level and looking dangerous.

Penn State is 11-3 on the season and 2-1 in conference play thus far, which places them at 4th in the Big Ten. A win over Penn State would be massive for Juwan Howard and his program this season.

A win over Penn State gets Michigan back into the mix

As we have seen in seasons past, it really only takes one game to turn a season around. In a year like this one it is essential that the Wolverines find their stride and make a push for the Big Ten.

Even though U-M struggled early, the Wolverines are still No. 1 in the conference and could keep their Big Ten Championship hopes alive tonight against the Nittany Lions. Shrewsberry is a tough coach to beat, but not one that Howard and Co. cannot overcome. Whatever was done against Maryland in Michigan’s massive win should be done again tonight at Crisler.

A win would improve Michigan’s record to 9-5 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten play. On top of that, the Wolverines would have an impressive top-tier win that would improve Michigan’s resume by a lot, which as we have seen, is very important come tournament time. Getting the 2022-23 season back on track is essential for Juwan Howard, and that could all start tonight against Penn State.