ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The last time Michigan won three straight games by at least 30 points, the Wolverines went on to win the national championship.
It's a bit early for that kind of talk this season, but Tim Hardaway Jr. and his team are off to quite a start.
Hardaway had 17 points and six rebounds, and No. 5 Michigan advanced to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off with a 77-47 victory over Cleveland State on Tuesday night.
The Wolverines beat Slippery Rock 100-62 in their opener then routed IUPUI 91-54. This is now their longest streak of 30-point wins since they had five in a row in December 1988, according to STATS, LLC.
Michigan figures to face a tougher test in this tournament next week, when the Wolverines take on Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"At Michigan, you come to win championships, and this is one of the most prestigious preseason tournaments," coach John Beilein said. "Many of the kids have not been to New York, they've not been to the Garden, and we wanted them to get there."
The Wolverines (3-0) shot 51 percent against a Cleveland State (2-1) team coming off an overtime win the day before.
Nik Stauskas scored 15 points and Trey Burke added 12 points and seven assists for Michigan, which closed the first half on a 29-5 run to take a 42-14 lead at the break. The second half looked a lot like the Wolverines' first two games -- there wasn't much drama.
"We're going to work four days of late-game situations," Beilein said. "Getting those in these early-season games are always beneficial. We haven't had any of those."
Anton Grady led the Vikings with 15 points.
The Wolverines shot 25 of 40 from 3-point range in their first two games but went only 9 of 24 Tuesday night.
Michigan is rarely shy about shooting from beyond the arc, but the Wolverines didn't really need to against the Vikings. They raced out to an 8-0 lead on layups by Burke, Hardaway and Jordan Morgan and then a dunk by Morgan.
Glenn Robinson III missed a dunk on an alley-oop attempt from Burke, and Grady's layup at the other end made it 10-7, but it didn't stay close for long.
Burke made another nice pass to Robinson, and this time the freshman converted the dunk for a 19-9 lead. Michigan blew the game open without making another 3-pointer until Hardaway hit one with 57 seconds left in the half.
"I've honestly never been to New York," Burke said. "Just to be able to go there for the first time with this team, it means a lot. To go there, play against some of the competition that's going to be there, it's going to kind of test where we're at."
Michigan shot 64 percent from the field in the first half.
The Wolverines entered the season with high expectations, largely because of Burke and Hardaway. But the much-hyped freshman class is contributing already, as well. Mitch McGary had one nice sequence in the first half when he brought the ball up along the right sideline in transition, then after the Wolverines scored he hustled back to draw a charge under the basket.
The 6-foot-10 McGary finished with six points and nine rebounds, and fellow freshman Stauskas connected three times from long distance. He's now 7 for 11 from 3-point range in his young career.
Robinson was coming off an 8-for-9 performance from the field in a win over IUPUI on Monday. The freshman went 2 of 7 against Cleveland State but still finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Cleveland State advanced to play Michigan after outlasting Bowling Green 79-73 in overtime Monday. Four Vikings played at least 40 minutes in that game, and they never really threatened the Wolverines.
"I think there was some intimidation tonight coming into this building and playing Michigan. We really didn't play well in any facet of the game," Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said. "This program has done a lot of great things -- we went into Syracuse and won and we've gone into other places and won -- so there wasn't an intimidation factor for our program, but this is a very young team. These kids haven't done this before."
Michigan has won all nine meetings against Cleveland State.
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