Dating back to Feb. 7, Michigan has lost exactly one basketball game: the national championship against Villanova. The Wolverines have won 23 of their past 24 games, with 17 of those wins coming by double figures. In fact, only two games — the Jordan Poole buzzer-beater against Houston and Tuesday’s win over Northwestern — were one-possession contests.
The biggest reason for the winning run? The Wolverines’ defense.
Michigan has the No. 1 defense in the country, according to a variety of metrics — scoring defense and KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency chief among them. During the aforementioned 24-game stretch, Michigan’s adjusted defensive efficiency (83.6 points per 100 possessions) is nearly five points per 100 possessions better than anyone else’s over that span, according to BartTorvik.com. If it qualified, it would be the best adjusted defensive efficiency since KenPom.com began tracking data in 2002.
“They’re so much further ahead of everyone right now, it’s not even funny,” one opposing Big Ten coach said, referencing their experience. “What they were doing at the end of the year has carried over.”
Talking to coaches who have played them this season or toward the end of last season, there are two key things that stand out: how in sync they are on the defensive end, and the play of junior point guard Zavier Simpson.