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2016-2017 University of Michigan Basketball Preview

Better defense could lead to a higher NCAA Tourney seed.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports


2015-16: 23-13 (10-8), Kenpom #50

Coach: John Beilein (10th Year)

Departures: Aubrey Dawkins (G, transferred to UCF); Spike Albrecht (G, will probably torture UM at Purdue); Kameron Chatman (F, Detroit transfer); Ricky Doyle (F/C, transfer to Dunk City aka FGCU); Caris LeVert (G, NBA the big leagues, movin’ on up well to the Nets so...)

Key Additions: FR Xavier Simpson (G, 4*),

The Lineup

Expected Starters:

G/F Zac Irvin, G/F Duncan Robinson, G Derrick Walton Jr., G Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (aka MAAR), F/C Moritz Wagner

Key Bench Players:

C Mark Donnal, G Xavier Simpson, G Ibi Watson

The Schedule

Non Conf

Michigan has spectacular chances to build its NCAA Tourney Resume right off the bat. Big-time big-name matchups abound: Marquette, SMU/Pitt, USC Gamecocks, VT, Texas...UCLA. So if that goes terribly and the talent has maximized itself and the bench is horrendous? Going to be a long year.


January 26 - February 16: @Indiana, @MSU, OSU, MSU, @Indiana, Wisconsin. On Friday February 17, you’ll have a good idea of where this Wolverine team is going to end up in the Big Ten standings. This looks brutal.


Enough talent and continuity exists for Michigan to trot out a 20 win season, plus 10 B1G conference wins, and sneak into the NCAA Tourney again. In fact, with five starters returning, Michigan is going to give you the exact same thing you got last year (yay, or maybe not). Lots of threeballs! The ability to slow down a game and play with superior teams! Possibly underwhelming defense and no depth to speak of. Oh god, another big man is destroying us! Again....Wooo 3’s!!! (two minutes later) ah boy, that’s all we got huh.

MAAR. I love the aggression getting to the hoop. I love the physicality. I love the low-star no-star to starter move. I love that his shortened name acronym looks like an advanced sabermetric concept.

John Beilein. Love this guy. He’s brought stability to the Michigan Wolverine basketball program. When you’ve seen the lows of Brian Ellerbe and Amaker, and you’re recruiting against schools that can promise BMOC+tradition, I think 20-11 is a decent place to be...

...THAT SAID. Questions do abound:

Can Duncan Robinson pull off a Stauskas-esque change from stand-still three point shooter to slasher scorer?

If one of the starters is injured, does Michigan burn a redshirt or try and survive with no depth?

Will John Beilein decide this is the year to double-team big time big men who just happen to be murderkilling Michigan possession after possession? Inquiring minds want to know!

A Plug for Big Ten Powerhouse: BTP is doing a Top 25 Big Ten player list. Here is Walton at #16, Irvin at #11, and MAAR getting some love at #23.

Will the defense make tremendous improvements and become better at wing positioning? Will a Michigan defense become physically tough inside?


Even though y’all know what you’re getting from these Wolverines, the actual manifestation is definitely an unknown. Has this group peaked? Will veteran leadership and knowledge of the system allow for a sneaky 12 B1G conference win season?

The OTE writers say: 21-10 (11-7)