Michigan acts like the No. 2 team in America in another blowout win to move to 12-0
ANN ARBOR -- The debate about whether or not Michigan deserves to be the No. 2 team in America is an intriguing one.
But it's really not that important.
Right now, Michigan is acting the part of the country's second-best team, and with that, there's really no doubt.
The Wolverines aren't just beating teams they're supposed to beat, they're destroying them -- evidenced again Thursday during a 93-54 blasting of Eastern Michigan at Crisler Center.
"There's a great quote that (Michigan hockey coach) Red Berenson has used before," Michigan coach John Beilein said Thursday. "Practice like you're in second place and play like you're in first place.
"I stole that from Red, and it's perfect for what this team needs to do. ... We've got to play and practice with a chip on our shoulder."
Michigan has one remaining game in its nonconference schedule, Dec. 29 vs. Central Michigan. If it wins that one, it will have become the eighth team in program history to complete a non-league schedule with a perfect record.
But Michigan hasn't just won every game it's played so far, it's dominated most of them.
The Wolverines have only had three teams play them within single digits (vs. Pittsburgh, vs. N.C. State and at Bradley), everyone else has been pummeled.
In 12 wins, Michigan is outscoring its opponents by an average of 22.2 points per game. The Wolverines had one win of 20 points a year ago.
Times have changed in Ann Arbor.
During the early part of the season, the Wolverines said they weren't buying into the hype, weren't paying attention to their ranking and weren't worried about winning streaks.
Now, they're embracing all of it -- and doing their best to walk the walk.
"We've got to embrace it," said Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke, who finished with 11 points and 8 assists vs. EMU. "Teams are coming to come out with their toughest shot, and they're going to come out with high intensity from the get-go.
"We've got to know that every single team we're going to play from this point forward is going to come out and try to test us early on -- that's something we're pretty much used to now."
EMU tried to test Michigan, going up 6-2 in the game's first minute and change.
That test wasn't too taxing, though, as the Wolverines outscored EMU by 43 points over the next 38 minutes.
Beilein insists he'll never discuss the team's ranking or where it sits nationally, he prefers to let wins do the talking for him. And, with this group, he really doesn't have to remind them of what it means to play with a chip on their shoulder.
Starters Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan were key members of the 2010-11 team, who had to scrap within an inch of its life just to make the NCAA tournament. They understand how important preparation is day in and day out, because they began their careers in a situation with almost zero margin of error.
Practice like you've got something to prove, but play like you're the best.
Consider that Michigan's motto from here on out.
"Coach tells us to have that mentality of practicing like you're in second place, but going out there and playing like you're champions," said Hardaway, who dropped in 17 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds against EMU. "I think we try to do that each and every day.
"We're going our hardest, playing with swag and playing with effort."
Red Berenson couldn't have said it better himself.
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