Michigan has 3 wins by an average of 35 points, but does it mean anything?
ANN ARBOR -- Through three games, the Michigan basketball team has done what it was supposed to.
Its acted like the No. 5 team in America.
The Wolverines have scored three wins by an average of 35 points to start the season, but let's consider reality:
They haven't really played anyone yet.
Slippery Rock, IUPUI and Cleveland State are a long way from the Big Ten, to be sure. But at the same time, the Wolverines maintain that they're still taking plenty from these early-season blowout victories.
"The biggest thing is just staying consistent," Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke said after a 77-47 win over Cleveland State on Tuesday. "We have bigger fish to fry, we need to just stay level and stay grounded.
"That's the biggest challenge."
One benefit Michigan's gained from its three early-season laughers, according to John Beilein, is live game experience for the team's youngsters.
Glenn Robinson III has started all three games, and has performed well. Nik Stauskas is shooting nearly 70 percent from the floor, and Mitch McGary continues to work his way into game shape at the college level.
Michigan has also been able to work Jon Horford back into the lineup from injury, and even got extended minutes for redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt on Tuesday -- all plusses that can't be overlooked, according to Beilein.
"Our practices are tough, but there's a game shape, 31 minutes for Trey Burke, that he can't get in a practice," Beilein said. "And the other thing, we can really see who plays when the lights are on. Maybe take some guys who did struggle and have them relax and get back to playing better.
"And then find the other ones that do have swagger to them and figure out who we want in tight situations."
Beilein has opted to start his young group out slow, rather than throw them head-first into the fire the way Tom Izzo routinely does at Michigan State -- a formula that's worked for him for a long, long time.
Basketball can be a very temperamental sport, and through three games, there aren't many players on the Michigan roster feeling any lack of confidence -- and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.
But at the same time, the players seem to realize more difficult times are ahead -- and they understand they'll need to take the early lessons they've learned and be ready to put them into action under a much larger microscope very soon.
"These games just get everyone adjusted to the game, or whatever," Stauskas said. "We're going to New York (now) and we'll see some good competition there, and we'll see where we stand."
Michigan will tangle with Pittsburgh the day before Thanksgiving in New York City in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals.
The Panthers will easily be the Wolverines' toughest foe to date, but make no mistake, Michigan -- and all its freshmen -- will absolutely be expected to leave Madison Square Garden with a trophy in tow.
Beilein says he's starting to find out who comes to play when the lights come on.
But it's important to remember that, in New York, the lights never really turn off.
"We're going to work four days with late-game situations (before New York)," Beilein said. "We haven't had any of those.
"So it's really important we really emphasize them."