Michigan hosts Central Michigan in the mainland round of the Maui Invitational on Monday. The Wolverines overcame a sluggish start to score 54 points in the second half en route to an 86-66 win against North Florida to improve to 11-0 in season openers under coach John Beilein, and hope to stay on the winning track by beating the Chippewas for the fourth time in five meetings.
“We expected to come out and run them over and you can’t do that,” Michigan forward Duncan Robinson told reporters. “We’re a pretty young team and we’re not going to win games because we show up and we’re Michigan.” The Wolverines are 61-3 when scoring 80 or more points under Beilein and aim to hit the magic number against the Chippewas, who surrendered an average of 87.7 points per game last season. Michigan suffered a shocking 45-42 defeat to Eastern Michigan the last time it faced a Mid-American Conference opponent on Dec. 9, 2014 and hopes to avoid another ignominious loss by extending their non-conference home winning streak to seven games. Central Michigan routed Siena Heights 108-48 to open up the new campaign and hopes for more offensive fireworks as the Chippewas set their sights on knocking off a Big Ten opponent for the first time since Dec. 17, 2014.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, BTN
ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN (1-0): Sophomore guard Kevin McKay set a new career high with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor and pulled down nine rebounds in the win against Siena Heights. Senior forward Cecil Williams added a personal-best 21 points and 11 rebounds to notch his second career double-double against the Saints. “I think experience plays a big role in that as I got my feet wet last year and I see how it all works now,” Williams told reporters. “I’m just playing aggressive with a lot of effort and just trying to play hard every single minute I’m out there.”
ABOUT MICHIGAN (1-0): Robinson, who shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc last season, drilled four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points in the win against North Florida. Charles Matthews, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky, bounced back from a slow start to finish with 20 points in his Michigan debut while Mo Wagner continued where he left off last year as he added 18 points and 12 rebounds for his second career double-double. Zavier Simpson was handed the start at point guard and dished out a career-high nine assists while freshmen Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers and Jordan Poole all scored the first baskets of their Michigan careers.
1. Michigan has won 16 of the last 18 meetings with Central Michigan.
2. The Wolverines have finished with 10 or fewer turnovers in 29 of their last 39 games.
3. The Chippewas are 10-76 against Big Ten foes.
PREDICTION: Michigan 87, Central Michigan 72