ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Four games. Four games are all that stands between No. 16 Michigan and a finish worthy of a Big Ten regular season championship.
Okay, that’s only partially true. With just two wins in their final four, Michigan (19-7, 11-3) would at the very least claim a share of the title, and with a schedule featuring zero nationally ranked opponents left, the Wolverines appear to be in great position to do just that.
But don’t tell John Beilein.
“I never look at it like that,” Beilein said Tuesday. “I just don’t think you go into a game and you say ok this team hasn’t had the success so far.
“I still remember playing Syracuse, February 5, it was my birthday, they were unranked and they won the national championship that year.”
Unfortunately for Beilein this isn’t 2003 and barring a Big Ten tournament run unranked Purdue (15-12, 5-9) has zero chance of winning it all in Dallas this April.
But Beilein, fully equipped with his highly successful and consistent day-to-day approach, knows the Boilermakers, just like any other remaining opponent, could surprise them Wednesday in West Lafayette.
“That’s our whole job as a coach to make sure they understand that at this level of basketball every game is going to be a battle,” Beilein said. “You only play four more. You’ve battled for 20 some, it’s going to be a battle just like you were playing the Arizona’s or Michigan State’s.”
“We just have to just do what we do and don’t change our approach really. Our approach has been alright we’re going to focus on today’s practice and you guys know what’s in front of you right here, just do your best.”
Senior center Jordan Morgan, who averaged 7.3 points per game and 5.6 rebounds on the Wolverines last Big Ten championship team, hopes that experience helps this young Michigan team.
In a day and age in which social media is rampant 24 hours a day and coverage constant on television and radio, looking ahead can be easy.
“We don’t live under a rock,” Morgan said. “So we know what’s at stake here and that’s the reason why we’re going to have a very serious approach to these last few games.”
“It’s so different now. It’s the same but it changes. So, for our team just continuing to be encouraging, continuing to bring a level of focus, keeping everybody focused and on task and just making sure we take it one game at a time now.”