Michigan Basketball Preview


Graphic by John Callison

Graphic by John Callison

Noah Housler, News Editor

  As another promising football season comes to an all too familiar disappointing conclusion, Michigan fans begin to turn their attention to basketball.

   The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a program record setting 33-8 season and their second national championship appearance in five seasons. The question is, can they build on that despite the loss of three major contributors? New arrivals from the 12th ranked recruiting class, Ignas Brazdeikis, Brandon Johns, David DeJulius, Collin Castleton, and Adrien Nuñez, hope to fill the shoes of big time players such as Moritz Wagner, Duncan Robinson, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

   John Beilein returns for his 12th season at the University of Michigan after signing a new contract through the 2022-2023 season. The identity of any Beilein team in the past has been shoot three pointers, play small ball, and not much defense. Last season,  the Wolverines established a new identity as they worked hard to play tougher defense under defensive mastermind assistant coach Luke Yaklich. This strong defensive presence is expected to continue into the new season as Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson, two of the best defensive players in the Big Ten, return to Ann Arbor. The biggest test for Coach Beilein this season will be to establish a high powered offense with less deadeye three point shooters than he is used to having.

   In the early games this season, the Wolverines have struggled on offense but played suffocating defense. Many fans are going into panic mode as they do every year, but others predict Coach Beilein will dial in the offense by February, in time for a hot March. The current starting lineup is Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews, Ignas Brazdeikis, and Jon Teske; it is unlikely there will be any change to this barring injury. With the lack of a reliable backup center, sophomore Isaiah Livers could be seeing a lot of minutes as a ‘small-ball five’ behind Teske. Livers was a starter last season and his game has not taken a step back, so why is he not a starter? Freshman Brazdeikis is a generational talent and needs to be on the floor, so Livers will need to embrace his role as a sixth man that plays starter minutes, similar to Duncan Robinson last season.

   The out of conference schedule this season is going to be as challenging as the Wolverines have seen in recent memory. Outside of the Big Ten, Michigan plays at Villanova, home against North Carolina, and home against South Carolina for the marquee matchups. In the Big Ten Michigan gets Purdue and Ohio State both once, at home; however, they do face off against Michigan State, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin all twice, once home and once away. Michigan plays a well balanced schedule this season and it should not hold them back from having a fantastic season if the team is what many believe they are. The Big Ten will be a top two conference this year based on many early projections, so a succesful in conference campaign could propel them to a potential one or two seed for the NCAA tournament. After dominant wins over North Carolina and Villanova, many feel that the sky’s the limit for this team.