Just like the previous team in my rankings Arkansas, Michigan is fresh off of an Elite Eight run. Also like Arkansas, Michigan lost a lot. Except the Wolverines lost even more than the Razorbacks did. Michigan lost five of the top eight minutes-getters from last season. But there is good talent left over from a team that earned a 1-seed in last season’s NCAA Tournament. Plus, head coach Juwan Howard brings in the nation’s #2 ranked recruiting class and the reigning Sun Belt Player Of The Year.
Find more about the number 14 Arkansas Razorbacks here.
Michigan Wolverines Preview
Star center Hunter Dickinson headlines the returnees. The already decorated sophomore put up big numbers last year in his first year in Ann Arbor and you should expect him to again this year. Graduate guard Eli Brooks and senior forward Brandon Johns Jr. both return as well. Brooks is an elite defender who started every game he played in last season. Johns Jr. got into the starting lineup late last year in the final five games.
DeVante’ Jones transfers in from Coastal Carolina. Jones ran the point for the Chanticleers the last three seasons and got better every year. He is an elite defender, leading the Sun Belt with almost three steals per game. Despite being a 6’1″ PG Jones was eighth in the SBC in rebounding average with 7.2 per game. He was also second in the conference in scoring average.
Juwan Howard’s massive recruiting class on headlined by two five-star power forwards, Caleb Houstan (#10 overall) and Moussa Diabate (#16 overall). Both will see big roles and could have a chance to start, although I think only one will. That one is Houstan, who could be a lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and therefore is a one-and-done candidate. The class also includes two other top 50 recruits in combo guard Kobe Bufkin (#45 overall) and PG Frankie Collins (#46 overall). I expect Collins to make a big impact off the bench. He will serve as the team’s backup point guard and I am a big fan of his.
This team was one was on the best defensive teams in the country last season. They were ranked in the top five in the country on defense at the end of last season. If all of these newcomers adjust together, then they will be very good on defense again.
Their non-conference schedule is not that strong but there are opportunities for good wins. Their first test comes against Seton Hall on November 16th as a part of the Gavitt Games. They also visit UNC for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in December. Also in December they host San Diego State and visit UCF. Michigan will have plenty of chances to get good, quality wins during conference play because of how good the Big Ten is going to be once again.
PG – #12 DeVante’ Jones (19.3 PPG/ 7.2 RPG/ 2.9 APG/ 2.8 SPG at Coastal Carolina)
SG – #55 Eli Brooks (9.5 PPG/ 3.1 RPG/ 3.1 APG/ 1.1 SPG)
SF – #22 Caleb Houstan (#10 overall recruit)
PF – #23 Brandon Johns Jr. (4.9 PPG/ 2.3 RPG)
C – #1 Hunter Dickinson (14.1 PPG/ 7.4 RPG/ 1.4 BPG)
Embed from Getty Images