If there is anyone who still doubts that Michigan’s John Beilein is one of the best head coaches in the country, they should be shown a tape of Sunday’s Michigan-Purdue Big Ten title game. For the second day in a row, Beilein’s Wolverines faced an undeniably more talented opposition, and all they did was add to a nine-game winning streak, taking home the Big Ten tournament trophy with a 75-66 win after four victories in four days.
Michigan beat Purdue and Saturday’s opponent—Michigan State—through genius tactics and stellar play from lesser-known role players. In the title game, against a Purdue team that had already beaten Michigan twice in the regular season (by a total of five points), the Wolverines dominated with a two-man game that kept the Boilermakers scrambling. Purdue just could not handle the pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops that the Wolverines kept throwing at them; centers Moe Wagner and Jon Teske filled it up while getting great passes for perfect looks from point guard Zavier Simpson.
Teske, a sophomore seven-footer who was a three-star recruit, had the game of his life, scoring 14 points in 21 minutes against the Boilermaker beast Isaac Haas. He came out of nowhere, and perfectly complimented the consistently great Wagner’s 17 points in 17 foul-troubled minutes. Here’s a late slam dunk off a Simpson pick-and-roll that had a very partisan Madison Square Garden crowd chanting Teske’s name like he just won the heavyweight championship:
Simpson ran the Michigan offense with confidence all week. While his shooting, particularly at the foul line, still has room for improvement, the sophomore point guard who seems generously listed at six feet is a great passer, ball handler, and defender. He thrives when he has big open targets like Wagner and Teske to hit down low.
They’re not quite halfway through what will almost definitely be a four-year run at Michigan, but Simpson and Teske both—not to mention the likely NBA-bound Moe Wagner—can join a now incredibly long list of relatively unheralded recruits who have taken massive steps forward under John Beilein’s watch. From Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas to D.J. Wilson, Wagner, and current senior standout guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, no coach in the country is creating more out of less. If you’re a high school player and the Dukes and the Kansases of the country aren’t knocking down your door, there may be no better college to go to than Michigan.
In a normal year, Michigan would have the luxury of entering the NCAA Tournament as the hottest team in college basketball. Since the Big Ten was so thirsty to play its final games at Madison Square Garden, however, they’ll now have over a week off until they play meaningful basketball again. It’s an unprecedented situation, so it’s hard to guess how they’ll handle all the free time, but rusty or not, Michigan is a scary tournament team. They have a true electric star in Wagner, a senior leader in Abdur-Rahkman, the sixth-best defense in the country, and a stable of young guys who can break out at any moment. Oh and also, one of the best coaches in the world.