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March 12, 2014

News and Views: Beilein prepares U-M for Indy

Michigan is preparing for the Big Ten Tournament by practicing for Indiana and Illinois. The Wolverines will play one of those two teams Friday at noon in a second round game after enjoying a first round bye Thursday.

"We focused on the things that didn't go well in those particular games," Beilein said. "Other than that, probably a half hour of each practice has been on the next game. We tried to get a lot of reps shooting, got a good, strong lift in - we're always working on our defense trying to get a little better, in particular transition defense."

Michigan plans to leave Thursday and practice halfway between Ann Arbor and Indy, though Beilein wouldn't disclose where.

Here's Beilein in News and Views format:

News: Eight of the last 10 national champions have been among the nation's best in offensive efficiency. Michigan is among the country's top offensive teams.

Beilein: "I hope that comes true. Our offense has been good many times this year. I keep thinking now we need to get better defensively - not offensively as much. We still have a plan offensively and we change accordingly to the opponent or the time of the season, the amount of times we played that opponent. That would be good if we can score the ball. We've got to be able to do that."

Views: At the same time, there are going to be times they need to stop somebody, too. They haven't been able to do it too often down the stretch in the Big Ten.

"We've never had a team percentage of 45 like we gave up this year," Beilein said. "We gave up 55 and 59 percent a couple games and won. The whole country, the percentages are probably up offensively. We have gotten better, but obviously not good enough to shut people down enough, so we'd better play well offensively or we're going to have a tough time winning."

News: Michigan seems locked in as a two seed, three at worst, with a Friday win, but Beilein isn't worried about where the Wolverines end up in the tournament.

Beilein: "It doesn't concern me at all. This is a great opportunity to us to get better as a team, to go after another championship this year and play against some of the best players, teams and coaches in the country."

Views: The Big Ten Tournament is essentially a cherry on top for the team that's won the conference by three games. This year's means relatively nothing for U-M, but it is important to teams that are trying to play their way into the big dance.

"The Big Ten Tournament, we've never gone into it as a favorite," Beilein said. "We've been a 10 seed, a seven seed - only one time we weren't in the play-in game. We're probably.500 in the tournament … just trying to survive and advance. If we were going in as a 1, 2, 3 seed every time and played one game, there's an issue.

"I think it varies who you are. A couple times at West Virginia and Richmond, we weren't getting in the tourney unless we won championships and played well. Penn State a couple years ago wasn't even close and played their way in. One year we were in the 8-9 in the Big East, lost to Syracuse in the championship game, four games in four days. We provided ourselves an opportunity, and that year went to the Elite Eight. … It's best for the league for teams trying to play their way in."

Beilein hasn't been in position to take a No. 1 seed in, so he's not sure how they'll respond.

"We won league championships before at Canisius and Richmond, but we weren't guaranteed," he said. "We had to go in and win. Neither time did that happen. We're going to find out as we go into it, but our job as coaches is that we provide motivation that gives a lot of incentive to win it. It is new territory for me."


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