Today, in the second round of the Maui Invitational, Michigan must face #6 Duke, who has never lost in its previous 3 trips to Maui. In other words, this is going to be a challenging game for even this energetic Michigan squad.
However, fans should not be focusing on the tremendous task at hand today, but on the results of the contest and its implications down the road both during this season and in the future. This is the perfect example of a "win, win" situation.
If Michigan Wins:
So what if Michigan is able to do what no other team at Maui has ever done? If Michigan is able to handle the pressure of the big stage and Duke, I can hardly imagine the team fading as the year goes on. With 2 resume building wins in just November, Michigan would probably be a virtual lock to the tourney and would likely play a big role in the Big Ten and Big Ten tournament this season.
Along with this, Michigan would probably need people such as Trey Burke, the true freshman point guard, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. to step up. Although this might seem obvious, Hardaway has not made the impact in several games this season (he failed to score 20 points in any game this season until yesterday's match-up with Memphis). Along with this, Burke is needed to play well considering Darius Morris' departure to the NBA Draft last season. If these players are able to play well against Duke, they are probably primed to have HUGE seasons and vault Michigan to a great finish.
If Michigan Loses:
Well, this is the less exciting finish. I can hardly say I'd be excited if Michigan lost, but I can say that Michigan could be viewed as having a great finish to its Maui trip. Not many people around the country even saw Michigan hanging with Memphis, let alone beating them by 12 points. Along with this, winning a big game and playing in big games against tough opponents will help to build this team's resilience.
Michigan was a good team last year, especially late in the year, but it never seemed able to get over the hump against the top-level competition. Michigan lost three times against Ohio State, lost twice to Wisconsin, lost to Syracuse, and lost a nail-bitter to Duke in the 2nd round of the Ncaa tournament (it's technically the 3rd round, but we all know it's really the 2nd round).
If Michigan wins, great. If Michigan loses, it's not the end of the year, in fact, this game alone will probably make the entire season better. Make sure to tune in and enjoy the game because I think it's going to be a close one with the way Michigan is playing defense right now, but make sure to remember.
This is a "win, win" game.
Photo Credit: Thomas Beindit