Michigan closes out successful 2018 vs. Binghamton

Michigan will be sad to see 2018 come to an end.

Other than getting blown out by Villanova in the national championship game in April, 2018 has been a year that Michigan won't soon forget.

The Wolverines won the Big Ten tournament and advanced to the NCAA final in April, and the offseason didn't provide any slowdown in momentum.

Michigan started the 2018-19 season with 12 straight wins and ascended to the No. 2 spot in the Associated Press poll, and odds are great the Wolverines will make it 13-0 when it hosts heavy underdog Binghamton on Sunday in Ann Arbor.

It will be the last game of 2018 for Michigan, which has won 26 of its past 27 games, the last of which was a 71-50 win over Air Force last Saturday.

But according to Michigan coach John Beilein, his team has "pleateaued a little bit" and wants to see more as 2019 approaches.

"I don't think we've gone down," Beilein said after the win over Air Force. "But I don't think we are playing as well as we did earlier in the year. We are not shooting the ball like we were and like we will."

The schedule has had more of a preseason feel for Michigan because it has only played four games since Dec. 4, all of which have been at home against teams with losing records.

That will change after facing Binghamton. Michigan will resume Big Ten play at home against Penn State on Thursday.

"I think (it's a matter of) getting fresh legs back and getting the last nonconference game out of the way and saying 'This is now the real stuff,'" Beilein said.

Michigan continues to be led by freshman sensation Ignas Brazdeikis, who is averaging 16.1 points per game. Senior Charles Matthews is averaging 14.5 points per game and teams with junior Zavier Simpson to give Michigan one of the top defensive backcourts in the nation. Sophomore Jordan Poole has ascended his scoring average to 13.2 points per game.

Binghamton comes to Ann Arbor on a nine-day layoff after a 68-67 win over LIU Brooklyn on Dec. 21.

That win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Bearcats.

"We deserve that one," Binghamton coach Tommy Dempsey said on his postgame radio show after the win over LIU Brooklyn. "I'm proud of these guys and how they've hung through a tough start. We've played better basketball."

Binghamton dynamic freshman guard Sam Sessoms leads the team in scoring at 17.7 points per game and has taken 25 percent of the team's shots.

Graduate transfer guard J.C. Show, who made the game-winning shot at the buzzer against LIU Brooklyn, is a 3-point shooter who is averaging 11.1 points per game.

"We need to do it by committee," Dempsey said. "That's what it is supposed to look like. We just have to continue to strive for more consistency."

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