After breezing through the first three games of its European exhibition tour, Michigan was likely to have a closer game in the finale, facing a team in a higher tier of the Italian professional league.
UM did face its toughest test, but still prevailed easily, pulling away in the third quarter for a 96-76 victory over Mantova on Friday. The win gives the Wolverines a perfect 4-0 record on the three-city tour.
Sophomore Zak Irvin had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Caris LeVert 15 points, four rebounds and five assists and freshman Ricky Doyle 10 points and 10 rebounds. Michigan led by single digits in the third quarter before breaking it open with a 23-10 fourth-quarter margin.
“Today, we played a very experienced team; they had a plan. They haven't been practicing a lot, but the things that they ran are a part of European basketball everywhere,” Beilein said. “They picked us apart at times; however, we scored some points, too.”
With an average winning margin of 37.5 points, the prevailing notion could be that Michigan didn’t gain much from their experience. On the contrary, coach Beilein said he and his young team learned a lot about themselves, despite the large margins.
“Every game has helped us in different ways. These games are not about the score, but experiencing playing basketball with a team like we have right now,” Beilein said. “As we went through the games, we saw new things that we have to learn.”
Losing five key players from last season’s Elite Eight roster, the Wolverines are rebuilding with five true freshmen, a redshirt freshman and will lean on LeVert and sophomores Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr.
Irvin was the biggest revelation, averaging 20.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in the four games; LeVert added 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
“It was a great experience coming out here, especially for the freshmen to get comfortable with our offense and our defense and go out there in a game setting and do what we’ve been practicing,” LeVert said.
Michigan, the defending Big Ten champion, will open its exhibition schedule on Nov. 10 against Wayne State at Crisler Center.