Dec 14, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (11) is defended by Michigan Wolverines forward Mitch McGary (4) in the second half at Crisler Center. Arizona won 72-70. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Wolverines Open Big Ten Season Without Mitch McGary


The Michigan Wolverines (8-4) begin the Big Ten season tonight on the road against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The  Wolverines have struggled during the non-conference season and have been unable to step up and beat elite level competition.

The Wolverines biggest win this season happened during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational when they beat Stanford 68-65. But Losses to Duke, Arizona, Charolotte and Iowa State have caused the Wolverines to plummet in the AP Top 25.

That can all change with a strong performance during the Big Ten season which starts tonight against an 11-2 Golden Gophers team. Going on the road to start the Big Ten season will be a tough task for John Beilein’s Wolverines but the coach understands how important getting a win on the road can be to a team trying to make a run.

You have to win some road games and you have to win almost all of yours at home, if not all of them,” Beilein said. “I don’t look at some (opponents) and say, ‘we’re not opening up with the third, fourth, fifth-ranked teams in the country.’ I don’t look at it like that at all. I look at it as you’ve got to find ways to win on the road. … This is the first of nine opportunities to get one of these road wins. … As long as you win at home, four to six on the road puts you in championship levels.”

Making the road test all the more difficult is the loss of Mitch McGary, who is out indefinitely due to  a back injury.  McGary has been struggling with the injury since august. The injury has caused him to sit out three games of Michigan’s non-conference season.  Now McGary has opted for back surgery that could cost him his sophomore season.

We have worked hard rehabbing the injury and I thought that everything was proceeding in the right direction until the last two weeks,” McGary said in a team release. “I have consulted with my family, my coaches and our doctors and decided the best option now is to have surgery. This was a difficult decision to make because I want to be out there with my teammates. At the same time, I need to be healthy to give everything I can on the court and help my team.”

You can see how Michigan stacks up against Big Ten competition when they face Minnesota tonight at Williams Arena.  You can catch the game on the Big Ten Network at 7:00 pm.

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