I think Michigan is better defensively than it’s been in a while. But using Teske & Livers as examples doesn’t hold a ton of weight moving forward. A healthy Wagner probably means Teske returns to 7-10min/game moving forward. Livers also seems to be on the short end of rotation minutes. Yes, they both bring better defense, but are they going to be on the court enough to majorly impact team defense for the game?
IMO, Simpson (who has been seeing the larger share of PG minutes), MAAR, Matthews are the keys to defense. Robinson is also improved on defense (he’s still below average, but that’s better than where he was last year).
There is also a nuanced difference between being an improved defensive team and being an elite defensive team.
All-in-all, I think this is a better defensive team than last year. I think this is a team that competes better on the boards than it did last year. I don’t think this is as good a 3pt shooting team as last year, but I think it is a better 3pt shooting team than it’s been so far this year. But Michigan counters some of that by being a better finishing team around the rim. This isn’t a great FT shooting team (Matthews is both a poor FT shooter and a high volume FT shooter, but that’s blunted a little by Robinson & MAAR being good FT shooters and Wagner being a descent FT shooter for a Center).
Overall, I think this year’s team isn’t too far off from last year’s team, but overall I think this year’s B1G is a step back from last year’s B1G…so 11-7, maybe 12-6 with a few bounces the right direction.