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No. 21 Michigan a legitimate Big Ten title contender after beating No. 10 Iowa

Jan 22, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

Iowa v Michigan Getty Images

Nik Stauskas had 26 points, five boards and five assists while Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III combined for 26 points and 16 boards as N0. 21 Michigan stayed undefeated in the Big Ten with a 75-67 win over No. 10 Iowa on Wednesday evening.

It’s the eighth straight win for the Wolverines. The last six came against Big Ten teams. Two last two came against top ten teams, one of which was on the road at Wisconsin.

I think it’s safe to say that Michigan has worked out their post-Mitch McGary kinks, and the credit has to be given to Nik Stauskas.

I know, I know, I know.

I wrote this exact same post on Saturday, so I won’t rewrite the entire thing but it bears repeating: Stauskas is a stud. He’s thrust himself into the Player of the Year conversation, particularly in the Big Ten, and he’s going to shoot up NBA Draft boards before too long. A 6-foot-6 athlete with unlimited range, Stauskas has proven this season that he’s so much more than that. He’s terrific in the pick-and-roll, having been designated as the guy that Beilein will primarily run his offense through, and he’s showcased a passing ability that few knew he had.

Throw in Robinson’s newfound aggression, Caris LeVert’s continued development offensively and Jordan Morgan’s reincarnation, and the Wolverines legitimately look like a Big Ten contender, although that tends to happen when you knock off two of the three teams that were sitting above you in the pecking order. It may not stop there, either. The Wolverines get No. 3 Michigan State on Saturday. That will be fun.

Back to Wednesday, what might be the most impressive part of Wednesday’s win had little to do with what Michigan did offensively and a lot to do with what they did to Iowa defensively. The Hawkeyes managed just 67 points, which was less noteworthy than the fact that they managed to hold Iowa to just 65 possessions.

Iowa has one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. They are not only the third-most efficient offense, according to KenPom, they also happen to average 73 possessions per game, No. 12 nationally. What that means is that in addition to being able to score at a highly-efficient rate, they score quickly. They don’t have an issue playing an uptempo game.

Michigan was able to take that away, and it had a lot to do with this win.

If they can continue to control tempo and defend the way they did tonight, they can absolutely win the Big Ten title.

Saturday’s intra-state battle just got REAL.

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