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February 28, 2014

News and Views: Beilein expects desperate Gophers team

As of Saturday, Michigan needs two more wins to secure at least a share of the Big Ten championship. Head coach John Beilein knows the first one won't come easy with Minnesota desperate to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume.

It doesn't help, either, that the Wolverines are coming off a taxing Wednesday win over Purdue that went to overtime.

"Minnesota presents a lot of challenges," Beilein said. "They change defenses, put great pressure on the ball, force turnovers and have really veteran guards … and their big men have developed.

"They have a lot of experience and are sitting right there with an opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament. I'm sure they'll bring everything they have, but with us having an opportunity to win the Big Ten Conference, we're going to try and do the same."

The Gophers recently scored 95 against Iowa.

"We have been there," Beilein said. "We know they are going to come in with a mindset, burn the boats. They have to come in and get wins. As a result, you have to understand you've got to have the same mentality when MSU came in. Both are playing for something really big."

Here's the rest of Beilein in News and Views form:

News: The Wolverines are right where they want to be, but where few expected them to be with three games left.

Beilein: "That's where you want to be as you get into March, in position for a league championship. That usually means an NCAA berth, and we all know anything can happen there.

"It's a great step in the right direction, and that's our only focus right now, to win the Big Ten Championship. At the same time, due to a roll of the ball we finished fifth in the league and still had a pretty good year last year … so you try to keep it in perspective."

Views: This time, though, U-M is firmly in control of its destiny, not playing from behind. It would be somewhat disappointing if the Wolverines didn't win the title outright now, but devastating if they didn't get a share.

Expect them to bring their best Saturday after the scare at Purdue. Illinois on the road won't be easy, and Indiana has played the Wolverines tough at home, but U-M will be significant favorites in all three games.

News: The Wolverines have gotten off to slow starts and fallen behind in several of their last games.

Beilein: "We've been talking about it, but we can't put our finger on it right now … youthful backcourt, bad play calling for me? We looked at that video against Purdue and we had some really good shots that didn't go in. They made some shots. But we have to find a way to get off to better starts."

Views: It could be defensive intensity too, he added, or several other things. Regardless, a 19-point hole at Purdue was unfathomable, and U-M was lucky to climb out of it.

That's living on the edge. If it happens again, the Wolverines probably won't be so lucky. Here's guessing it won't.

News: Glenn Robinson III was the hero in Michigan's win over Purdue, hitting critical jumpers in addition to the game winner.

Beilein: "He works on that a lot. We hadn't even thought about long twos, just points - don't care if they're short twos, dunks, we're trying to get him looks. I just know if he's confident, for certain, one of these days he's going to make everything. Any inconsistencies in his shot will all go away.

"He has always been a very unselfish player. That can be a fault sometimes, looking for somebody else. At the same time, he's still developing a skillset that can allow him to be even better one on one. All those things, isolation … he's working on things that can make us all better individually. The game still comes down to one on one if you can't create leverage."

Views: What would really make him the best he could be, however, is if his motor ran all the time, something Beilein noted. There are times, too, that he might be "running a play instead of being a player."

In other words, it's about recognizing when to choose your spots and doing it. He's still working on that aspect of his game, and he'd be wise to come back for another year to perfect it before thinking about going to the NBA.


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