The Michigan Wolverines improved to 7-0 under first-year head coach Juwan Howard, and won the Bad Boy Mower Battle 4 Atlantis by defeating the #8 Gonzaga Bulldogs 82-64 in the championship game.
Michigan won the Battle 4 Atlantis with back-to-back convincing wins over two ranked teams in the Top 10. On Thanksgiving, Michigan upset #6 North Carolina 73-64 to secure themselves a spot in the Battle 4 Atlantis finals.
Michigan came into the preseason unranked. They lost their top three scorers from last season. In addition, Jim Beilein moved onto the NBA to accept the vacant head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Howard, an ex-NBA star who worked as an assistant coach, did not have any college hoops head coaching experience before he accepted the job at his alma mater.
“I’m sure we’re on the map now,” said Howard, who also played his collegiate ball at Michigan with the infamous Fab Five.
In the last two seasons, the Battle 4 Atlantis champion won the March Madness college basketball championship. Virginia, the defending collegiate champion, won in the Bahamas last year. In 2017, Villanova won the Battle 4 Atlantis, and later on took down March Madness.
Tar Heels Down
Michigan won three games in three days at the Atlantis Resort and Casino on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Michigan State knocked off Iowa State 83-76 on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals against North Carolina.
In the semifinals, Michigan found themselves a +3.5 dog against #6 North Carolina. Michigan unleashed a 19-0 run to pull ahead of North Carolina for good, and hold on to a 73-64 victory.
Junior guard, Eli Brooks, tied his career-high with 24 points thanks to an offensive philosophy that Howard calls “share the ball”.
“That goes off shot selection, just sharing the ball,” said Brooks. “We take good shots. People aren’t afraid to share the ball because they know the next person’s going to do their job.”
UNC’s superstar freshman, Cole Anthony, scored 22 points in the defeat.
Wolverines Gag the Zags
Banged-up Gonzaga hobbled into the championship game as a -4.5 favorite against Michigan after they knocked out #11 Oregon in the semifinals during an overtime thriller. The Bulldogs were outplayed on both ends of the court.
Zavier Simpson, a senior point guard, scored 13 points and dished 13 assists.
Jon Teske, a 7-foot-1 senior center, dominated Gonzaga with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks. Teske secured the tournament MVP with 40 points and 29 rebounds over three games at Atlantis.
“We’re having fun together,” said Teske. “Sharing the ball. We know where we’re going to be on the court at all times.
Killian Tillie scored 20 points in a losing effort for Gonzaga (8-1).
Michigan has a couple of days off before they face #2 Louisville (7-0). The Cardinals are 5-0 at home this season. Howard’s squad will really see how they stack up in a hostile environment against one of the best teams in the NCAA.
The Wolverines won seven straight games to start the season, and they’re 4-0 against the spread over the last four games. Overall this season, Michigan is 5-2 ATS.