Michigan continues to accumulate preseason hype

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan-at-Nebraska-6-597x419[1]Expectations for the 2012-13 Michigan basketball team continue to grow.

The latest to join the hype? The Sporting News ranked Michigan fifth in its preseason top 25 rankings.

Michigan’s lofty rankings seem to be near consensus across major services as Sporting News is now the 6th service to project the Wolverines as a top ten team:

While there are certainly contrarian view points, such as Dan Hanner’s speculation that Michigan might not be a top-25 team, the national media continues to praise the Wolverines. At the very least, Michigan is a top ten team and by most measures the Wolverines are flirting with top five status.
Michigan opened last season ranked 18th and managed to maintain a top 25 ranking throughout the season. The Wolverines saw their ranking surge as high as 10th and as low as 25th but never dropped completely out of the top-25 poll. Michigan never managed to break that top ten barrier, something that hasn’t been done in Ann Arbor since 1997 when the Wolverines were ranked 8th.

Michigan shared the Big Ten Championship last season but suffered a NCAA tournament opening round upset to Ohio, ending the season on a down note. The Wolverines lose captains Zack Novak and Stu Douglass as well as transfer Evan Smotrycz but introduce a talented freshman class featuring top 100 prospects Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. National media seems to equate the loss of leadershp and subsequent upgrade in talent as a net gain for the Wolverines. With less than one month until the first exhibition game where would you rank the 2012-13 Wolverines?

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  • Jay Bilas also has Michigan at No. 5. https://twitter.com/JayBilas/status/253181595580764161

    • Steve2081

      Was just coming to post that. HAHA

  • gobluemd16

    This year could be really, really special. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a basketball season to start. Not only are the players great athletes, but great people that are really easy to root for.

  • ScottGoBlue

    Don’t know much about other teams honestly, but this Michigan team looks like a 12-20 team with potential to rise. I think all the Top-5 love we’re seeing is based on the expectation that all our top freshmen reach their max potential for this year, all returners slightly improve. That could happen, but is a long-shot. Will be fun to see what they do! Go Blue!

    • Retiredat23

      Our freshman will be phenomenal, mark my words.

  • ajerome33

    I would rank them around 15 to start the season. I love the talent and versatility this roster brings to the table, but I still have some questions that keep me from putting them in the top 10. Specifically my questions are about how well the freshmen will be able to adjust to the college game defensively and will someone step up in a leadership role to aid overall team chemistry. Hopefully these questions will be answered swiftly, but for now I feel better placing them around 15.

    • Champswest

      I rank them about 15. Lack of experience is a potential problem. Talented freshmen are great, but it doesn’t always work out (Brundidge).
      We could be pretty good by season end.

      • bftn

        But sometimes it does (Burke).

  • cambridgeblue

    I think we should be ranked 15-19. Losses of Zack and Stu are huge. I still remember what it was like the year after we lost CJ Lee and David Merritt. We were supposed to take a huge jump and we were awful. Zack and Stu are way better than those guys. Though we have a lot more talent now than the year after Lee/Merritt, I think that translates to a 15-19 ranking over top 5/10

    • geoffclarke

      So you think the Michigan program won’t have learned from that?

      • cambridgeblue

        It’s not about “learning” from it. It’s about underestimating the value
        of senior leaders and questions about whether anyone can fulfill those
        roles this year. You can’t just say “oh we need to make sure we need
        leadership so let’s have it.” You need guys who can actually do it. I
        have no idea if we do or not.

        • geoffclarke

          Good point. I agree we don’t know yet if the leadership on the team will be as good as last year, but which teams normally have the type of leaders like Novak, or Draymond Green, for example? But, I know if I were on the team and I saw Burke put in all the effort he has to be a better player AND had publicly stated his goal of a national championship, he’d be a guy I’d follow. I honestly think we’ll be fine in that regard.

          • Retiredat23

            Leadership doesn’t win games….talent does. Leadership helps the less-talented team beat the more talented team sometimes, but let’s make sure we all know what really wins games.

          • ajerome33

            Talent may be the most important thing, but don’t discount the importance of leadership, team chemistry, and clearly defined roles. We already have great leadership from the coaching staff, but you also need to have the extension of that on the court. There are plenty of examples of teams with top 20 talent that flop every year because they don’t know how to play together as a team. Do I think that will happen with this team? No. But we need to recognize that talent alone does not win games. We’ll have to wait and see how this team evolves together.

        • Mark Worthley

          Senior leadership hasn’t won an NCAA national championship for a looooooong time.

          • Retiredat23

            Amen Mark! Granted Kentucky had an incredible freshman class last year, but they only had 1 senior contributor on that team (Miller)….and mostly freshman and sophmores.

          • ajerome33

            Okay – this may be true most of the time. Although Duke and UNC have won Championships in recent years with key Senior players such as Tyler Hansbrough and Jon Scheyer. I guess the main thing is that there has to be leadership on any team that wants to be successful. It doesn’t have to come from a Senior, but somebody has to fill that role. Last year’s Kentucky team was loaded with underclassmen, but guys like Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller were leaders on the court. Hopefully Trey and Tim can step up for us.

    • blucinic

      Partially agree . . . would put Michigan 8 – 12. How they fill the Novak and Douglass vacuum will determine a lot.

    • Guest

      Which team would you rank ahead of Michigan based on returning talent and incoming freshman class? To me, there’s about 3-4 teams better than Michigan. There is a reason why a lot are so high on Michigan. Trey Burke is a big reason why because without him, Michigan would be 15-19. Throw in a top 10 recruiting class, people are talking about a possible final four berth.

    • A2JD

      That year we also were starting a Freshman PG. This time around, we have Trey. Big difference.

      • section13row15

        I don’t remember Morris starting a lot that year, did he?

        • He began the season as started and started 19 of 32 games. Got benched somewhere in the middle of the year but started again by the end.

          • section13row15

            Thanks buddy! I knew you’d have the exact number to correct me. What were his minutes that year? Subject: [umhoopscom] Re: Michigan continues to accumulate preseason hype

  • geoffclarke

    I understand all the tempered expectations…believe me, that’s usually my MO. But if Indiana can consistently be ranked 1 or 2, then Michigan can be 5. We won’t have many weaknesses.

    • As an aside, I also wonder if Indiana and Ohio State aren’t overrated a bit as well. The Hoosiers should be good, but weren’t a great defensive team last year. Ohio State loses a lot and will count on a lot of relatively new faces, similar to Michigan, plus Craft and Thomas.

      • geoffclarke

        I do think OSU and Indiana are overrated and I also think MSU is underrated. Should be fun!

      • Retiredat23

        Indiana overrated? With their depth?!? No sir. OSU will be very good as well (watch Amir have a great year) and I agree w/ JeffClark, MSU will be very solid and possibly underrated. Never underestimate Izzo!

        • DingoBlue

          Agree, I think the top three teams in the B1G are Indiana, Michigan, and MSU (in no particular order). We should count our blessings that we think we can compete with such teams in our conference when we get there.

  • Bobby Dennishaks

    To be a top 5 team, M is going to have to play up tempo, get out on the break, and get easy buckets. We shall see if they can do this. Starts with defensive rebounding, and that is where the starting tandem of McGary and Morgan will be so important. Get Trey the ball with GRIII and Hardaway on the wings and Bball at Crisler will well worth the ticket price hike

  • Mattski

    Alright, we’ve had this conversation enough. Bring on the hoops!

    • DingoBlue

      Agreed 100%, I don’t want to think about predictions, I want to be in the midst of Michigan football and basketball at the same time. It could be a great November…… Fingers crossed.

    • Mattski

      Or maybe we haven’t–I see a lot of good observations here. Wonder if Dylan would like to treat us to some speculation or inside skinny about what players are actually going to be on the floor together.

  • bluturns2gray

    Our biggest weakness will be backup point guard. Hopefully Trey can stay healthy and out of foul trouble. Interior defense was nonexistent last year maybe Mcgary and Horford can alter some opponents shots.

    • Retiredat23

      I wonder if Stauskas will play some backup point….he certainly looks like he has the handles to do so. Our other options are Eso & freshman Spike…

      • DingoBlue

        I agree on the curiousity of Stauskas to cameo at point. His HS and AAU footage shows the capability, but if it translates at all to the next level, I have no clue. I think last year we saw suitable replacement capability from Eso, but our success would be determined by freshman impact at that point. Spike I think has all the tools needed to be a solid PG down the road.

  • A2JD

    I think a #5 ranking is a bit high but Michigan is top 12, in my opinion.

  • Lester Abram

    I think I’ve seen evidence of virtually all the players working hard. Leadership is there.

    • geoffclarke

      Lester Abram is one of my all-time favorites.

  • MGoTweeter

    right now I would put Michigan right around 10. I do think they are being overrated based off last season’s accomplishment of a Big Ten title. I think a lot of people forget that both Ohio and MSU were better teams than Michigan even though they finished with the same record in the B1G. That is not to say that Michigan was lucky to finish where they did, as they earned every victory, but rather that Michigan was playing closer to their potential than most every team in the B1G throughout the year.

    That said I like the pieces that Michigan has returning more than most teams. I also think that the naysayers that point to Michigan losing senior leaders as the key reason for them falling back, are off point. Senior leaders are irrelevant in college basketball. Leadership itself is certainly important, but it matters not whether they are seniors or freshmen. I think you could make a strong argument that Burke was just as important in terms of leadership last season as Novak and Douglass were. Novak himself said nearly as much multiple times.

    Plus you do not have to look far for examples of teams with apparent strong senior leaders returning that fell flat. Michigan three years ago and State two years ago both had upperclassmen returning that were thought of as leaders and both failed to like up to expectations.

    I don’t think any problems Michigan encounters along the road will be due to a lack of leadership, it may just come down to how all the new pieces mix together. Sometimes guys just do not gel as a team and other times guys you expect not to be able to gel together achieve great things.

    With everything that Michigan has returning along with a lot of potential new pieces, I expect them to be strong and probably better overall than last year. However, with the strength of the B1G I would not be surprised to see them finish anywhere from first to fifth in conference.

  • Webbdog

    I just feel we will be twice as good as we were last year. We have better talent and size across the board. We Have gained more than we have lost. I would rank U of M Number 1. Why not? What makes any other team out there more deserving? It’s all speculation. The games have to be played. Rankings will work themselves out. I for one like the hefty expectations. Recruits will look at it with some sense of respect bestowed upon us by the national media and they will also have a reason to keep an eye on us and the style of coaching Beilein brings to the table. GO BLUE #1.