|No. 18 Michigan tries to keep rolling vs. Providence|
An entire offseason of inaction has done nothing to change one thing from the last college basketball season: No. 18 Michigan is still one of the hottest teams in the country.
Following a run to the national championship game last season that saw Michigan win 16 of its final 18 games, the Wolverines have picked up where they left off this season.
Michigan is off to a 4-0 start, including a dominant win at defending national champion Villanova, and is eyeing an early season tournament title Sunday following an 84-61 victory over George Washington in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday.
Standing in the way in Sunday afternoon's championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., is Providence, which defeated South Carolina in the other semifinal 76-67.
"A lot of of the message after the Villanova game was handling success and how teams just struggle with that and it's very natural," Michigan coach John Beilein told the Detroit News after the George Washington win. "Michigan is not going to fall into that trap. GW has a lot of talent. They got some young players and they'll grow and get better and better. But we couldn't fall into that trap of not playing defense and we did a little bit at the end of the first half. That's a really good sign when we can come out of a great win like that and come out and play as hard as we did."
As he did against Villanova, senior guard Charles Matthews led the way for the Wolverines, scoring 25 points to continue his hot start to the season.
Michigan's defense also has been stout as George Washington was the first team to score more than 50 points against the Wolverines this season.
Providence will be the latest to take a shot at the Wolverines.
The Friars are off to a 3-1 start this season, with their loss coming to Wichita State.
Providence has two big-time scorers in junior Alpha Diallo, who is averaging 19.5 points, and freshman A.J. Reeves, who is averaging 15.8.
David Duke, who scored 20 points in the win over South Carolina, is another freshman contributor for the Friars.
Providence coach Ed Cooley told the Providence Journal before the event started that the games over the weekend in Uncasville would be a great opportunity for his young players to grow.
"All the freshman are adjusting," Cooley said. "I think it's a process. They haven't been held accountable in their careers yet, so it's a lot of film work, a lot of coaching and encouragement. They're learning, they're growing."
Against South Carolina, Providence won despite shooting 39.3 percent from the field overall and 4 of 13 from 3-point range.
In beating George Washington, Michigan shot 50 percent field and was 15 for 30 from 3-point range.