Here is the first “really?” prediction in my off-season “99 in 99” in which I am ranking the 72 power conference teams and top 27 mid-major college basketball programs in reverse power ranking order. Michigan vastly disappointed last season and now faces the challenge of replacing their top two players.
By: David Kay
Michigan Wolverines (T-7th, 7-11 in Big Ten, 15-17 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Jon Horford (Fr)/Jordan Morgan (Fr)
F: Blake McLimans (Fr)/Evan Smotryzc (Fr)/Colton Christian (Fr)
G: Zach Novak (Jr)/Jordan Dumars (So)
G: Stu Douglass (Jr)/Matt Vogrich (So)
PG: Darius Morris (So)/Tim Hardaway Jr. (Fr)
Gone: G-Manny Harris, PF-DeShawn Sims, C-Zack Gibson, SF-Anthony Wright (transfer-Toledo), G-Laval Lucas-Perry (transfer-Oakland), C-Ben Cronin (injury)
After returning to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, the Wolverines took a step back last season when expectations were high. Jon Beilein now faces a re-building effort as he loses Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims who combined for more than half of the Wolverines scoring output last year. Add into that the dismissal of Laval Lucas-Perry for violating team rules and Michigan will be one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines welcome in five freshmen and South Florida transfer Jordan Dumars who will become eligible after the first semester. Four of those freshmen make-up the entire frontcourt along with redshirt freshman Blake McLimans which will be quite a challenge for Beilein. Tim Hardaway Jr. figures to be involved in the backcourt rotation.
Zach Novak and Stu Douglas will be asked to carry the load as leaders and are the top two returning scorers respectively averaging just 7.4 and 6.8 points per game last season. Sophomore point guard Darius Morris will likely join them in the starting line-up. He showed flashes during his freshman season but will need to make a major leap if Michigan is going to have any chance this season.
Player to Watch: Blake McLimans, PF
The 6-10 forward chose to redshirt last season and is the only Wolverine frontcourt player who is not a true freshmen. Already having a year in the system will benefit him as he will likely be asked to contribute in a major way right off the bat. His ability to play on the perimeter and knock down outside shots makes him a perfect fit in Beilein’s system that is friendly for versatile bigs.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/26 vs. Syracuse (Legends Classic)
11/28 vs. Georgia Tech/UTEP (Legends Classic)
11/30 at Clemson (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/10 vs. Utah
1/9 vs. Kansas