Five Reasons Michigan Will Struggle

Michigan basketball coach John Beilein hangs his head late in the second half of the Wolverine's 62-44 loss to Wisconsin, Saturday afternoon, February 6th at UM's Crisler Arena.<br />
Lon Horwedel |

Earlier today we looked at five reasons why Michigan should excel this season but now we take a look at why the Wolverines might struggle. Michigan fans remember the last time the Wolverines were ranked in the preseason top 25, a disappointing 15-17 season in 2010, and here are five reasons why it could happen again.

1. Negative Conference Efficiency Margin

In 2010 this was the red flag that nobody saw coming. Despite a .500 Big Ten record and a second round NCAA appearance, Michigan was outscored during Big Ten games. We’ve touched on how effective John Beilein has been at winning (NCAA tournament games specifically) with a negative conference efficiency margin, but that doesn’t always translate to success down the road.

A negative conference efficiency margin means that Michigan’s record was actually better than its performance (U-M was outscored by its opponents but went .500). There’s no more natural statistical indicator of regression, just as a team that outscored it’s opponents but lost a lot of games is a prime candidate to improve. Michigan fans should take solace in the fact that their season changed so dramatically. This wasn’t the case of a mediocre team playing inconsistent basketball all season. Instead it was the case of a seemingly hapless team figuring things out and playing some of the best basketball in the country for the final two months of the year.

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Five Reasons Michigan Will Excel


Michigan tips off the 2011-12 season on Friday afternoon ranked as the No. 18 team in the country. Preseason rankings are an inexact metric based on reputation more than fact but the Wolverines are respected nationally after a strong finish to the 2010-11 season. Computers aren’t gun shy about Michigan either, Ken Pomeroy’s preseason projections have U-M at No. 22 nationally. In order to take a closer look at the upcoming season, here’s a look at five reasons why Michigan should excel and could be poised to be John Beilein’s best performing team in Ann Arbor.

1. Returning Experience

Michigan only has two seniors but the Wolverines return a significant portion of last year’s team with game experience. Zack Novak is about as good as it gets in terms of pure leadership ability and that will make a difference. The three year captain’s hustle and emotion have won over his fans and teammates and he led Michigan in minutes last season.Stu Douglass has played major minutes, starting 58 games, throughout his career and has seen the highs and lows of a Big Ten season. Jordan Morgan, Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr. all played major minutes in their first season of action. Last year’s experience should give each sophomore enough experience to be worthwhile but prove just how much there is to build on. Matt Vogrich is a junior and has made strides physically, finally looking more like he’s ready to compete at this level, and will provide a veteran shooter off the bench.

Experience doesn’t win you games – Michigan was one of the least experienced teams in the country last year – but there’s little doubt that Michigan has a cohesive and veteran group to build around.

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Thursday Links: Signing Day Reactions & Notes

PhotoNWI Times

DSC00105[1]Michigan received its second letter of intent this evening, this one from Glenn Robinson III. The 6-foot-6 wing has seen a meteoric rise in the recruiting rankings since his commitment to Michigan in August of 2010. Here’s Beilein on Robinson:

“Glenn has a passion and devotion to the game of basketball that has driven his development significantly over this past year,” said Beilein. “He is first and foremost a great teammate and is very coachable. The combination of his explosiveness and unselfishness, along with his expanding skill set makes him a perfect fit for Michigan Basketball.”

For more signing day news, notes, videos and more check out our Signing Day Central page.

It’s official. Mitch McGary is a Michigan Wolverine. McGary signed his letter of intent this morning and John Beilein released this statement on McGary’s commitment:

“Mitch possesses a unique blend of size and skill with a motor to run, rebound and compete, which will serve him well at this level of college basketball,” said Beilein. “He initiates contact inside while being very comfortable on the perimeter with the ball. Mitch loves the University of Michigan and loves playing basketball and will bring energy and enthusiasm to our team.”

Signing Day Central: Class of 2012

The early signing period for the 2012 recruiting class begins today and all three of Michigan’s commitments are expected to sign their letters of intent this week. As reported yesterday, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III plan to sign their letters of intent on today while Nick Stauskas will sign his letter on Friday during a ceremony at his school.

For casual recruiting followers or savvy fans that want to relivethe past, we put together signing day capsules – with basic information and a run-down of all our previous scouting reports, videos and interviews – for all three of Michigan’s 2012 commitments. You can find the capsules after the jump.

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