Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Bo. Via MGoVideo:
Playoff bits. So now the Big Ten is saying "screw playoffs altogether." Jim Delany is advocating for the four best teams in any playoff that does occur, and everyone hates the system of voting we have in place now. Delany:
“Everybody recognizes that the present poll system is not a good proxy,” he said. “It’s flawed, it’s not transparent, it has people who have a stake in the outcome voting, it measures teams before they play a game.”
I hope Bill Hancock has a fainting couch.
At this point it's clear that most fans don't have the same priorities in mind as the people in charge of the leagues they're fans of—see SEC expansion—and arguing with them on the internet is pointless. It's like trying to communicate with sentient mushrooms. Their desires are so alien that attempting to comprehend them leads to you shooting railguns at a distant planet for no reason other than fear.
Whatever happens, we can be assured that everyone was in favor of it at some point. Even the generally sober folks employed by actual newsgathering organizations are getting peeved at this point. Adam Rittenberg:
"A computer doesn't have an eye," Delany said. "So an eye test is missing if there is an injury" or other issues with a contender. Delany also said the impetus for change is that the BCS "has been battered and criticized" and treated "like a piñata" for the past 15 years. So to reiterate: The Big Ten's No. 1 preference would be to keep a current system that everybody hates and which uses a totally bankrupt formula to select its teams. Gotcha.
Sentient mushrooms, man.
IRONY EXPLODE. Dave Brandon, one of the Big Ten's most prominent complainers about a playoff:
"Every change I have ever proposed has been met with resistance," Brandon told the crowd… "I don't care what it is, any change that's been proposed, this has been a culture that wants to resist it, because we all want to go back to the way it was when we were there because that's friendly and that's comfortable."
Notice how he switches back to "I" from "we" when he's talking about all the great stuff he does and not the fact that six different uniforms in a season may have been a tiny bit excessive.
No move. UConn's AD has restated that the Huskies will not move their return game scheduled for next year from their home field. That's fine by me but now the UConn bloggers are looking at the $2 million buyout clause and wondering if the game will ever be played. I'd guess it will since there's not a whole lot of time to find a suitable replacement, but Brandon's had occasional grumbles about the indignity of playing at such a place since he arrived.
UConn's ace in the hole may be their athletic director. They hired Michigan alum Warde Manuel away from Buffalo, so Michigan may be more willing to go through with things.
Incoming pointage. Those Indiana junior/senior All-Star scrimmages have kicked off and the first one featured a lot of the above-pictured activities. Glenn Robinson III was 9 of 10 from the field en route to leading his team in scoring. He also added seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Junior rep Zak Irvin was his team's leading scorer as well, though he didn't shoot as well as GRIII.
Pee and flee. A couple of OSU players are suspended indefinitely—or at least until they pick up their whatever misdemeanor plea bargains—for urinating on the side of a building, then taking off when the cops arrived:
Police in Shawnee Hills, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, spotted the two players and a third man not connected to the football team early Saturday urinating outside a restaurant near Stoneburner’s house, located just off the course at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Collins said the men dashed away when they saw a spotlight, unknowing it belonged to police. He said Mewhort and Stoneburner stopped about 40 yards away from the restaurant and did not attempt to hide.
This is not interesting—it's no defensive tackle Dukes of Hazzard attempt. I just wanted to call it "pee and flee." BONUS: these guys were peeing on the side of a building mere feet from a thicket dense enough to hide in. Sounds like they need to take OSU's Andy Katzenmoyer Memorial Drunken Decisionmaking 101.
Kind of good. A re-rank of the top 100 basketball prospects from last year finds Trey Burke in rarefied air:
5. Trey Burke, Michigan (84)
Along with Cody Zeller, Burke was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second team All-Conference. He and Zeller are also, comfortably, the top two freshmen returning to school this fall. Burke came out of nowhere (or, at least, the "obscurity" of the non-McDonald's All-American section of the ESPNU Top 100) to be a superstar do-it-all point guard for an NCAA tournament No. 4 seed. He scored often, he scored efficiently, he passed, and he took care of the basketball. The Wolverines' round of 64 loss to Ohio shouldn't alter the fact that Burke had a fabulous season. Michigan returns their three key players from 2012 and adds a pair of recruits capable of making an immediate impact. There's a reason expectations for 2013 are high.
Cody Zeller is the only guy higher than him who will be in college next year.
Like Coke, but fast. Drake Johnson tells a delightfully weird story about Fred Jackson to Kyle Meinke:
"I'm sitting in his office, and there was a fridge right over there, and he's like, 'You hungry?'" Johnson said. "I'm like, 'No man, I'm not hungry.' So he's like, 'OK, I'm going to grab myself a Coke.' So he grabs himself a Coke and he sits down.
"He takes maybe two sips, and he's like, 'Hey Drake, you want something to drink?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm still good.' He's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself an orange juice.' I'm like, 'Dude, you have a Coke in front of you.' He says, 'It's fine.'
"So I'm sitting there, and maybe two minutes later, he's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself a drink,' and I'm like, 'Coach, you already got two drinks in front of you, man! Your thirst can be quenched by what's in front of you.'
"He says, 'I'm just going to grab myself some water. You want some water?' And I'm like, "Nooo, I have Gatorade in my hand, guy. It's fine.'"
My thirst cannot be quenched by what's in front of me, Drake. What is satiation? THE MOMENT BEFORE YOU'RE THIRSTY AGAIN. Now let me tell you about how you are a taller, quicker version of Jim Brown. /dondraper'd
Suggestion box. Cover It Live has decided to charge out the nose for use of its product. Running Signing Day liveblog alone would now cost $300. It would have cost the site almost a thousand dollars last November. All this for a moderated chat system. This is clearly not a good use of funds, so I'll be looking for alternatives. Let me know if you know of any.
Etc.: Will Campbell's hood-crumpling registers in the Fulmer Cup. Pro Combat uniforms for Northwestern. More on Big Ten baseball's tough spot. NHL draft roundup from MHN. Holdin' The Rope on the Denard play. The first one. You know, that one. We need a nickname for it. Shoelace in the dirt or something. Mark Donnal invited to the NBPA camp. Can we stop giving credit to Jim Delany's amazing foresight when the conference he's piloting has won two national titles in fifty years?
Please don't take offense at clearly manufactured Queensbury-style smack-talk emanating from real journalists at ESPN. None of the journalists cares one whit about anything that is not the relevance of the serial comma in today's fast-paced society.
Gorilla smash. This blog's readership annihilated the annual EDSBS charity fundraiser last year, bringing hope to refugees and a Bo-themed skin to EDSBS. Michigan coasted past #2 Auburn by a full two grand, and lo, we were amply rewarded.
You can take the opportunity to defend your crown by hitting up the 2012 version; this year the winning team also gets an episode of Shutdown Fullback devoted to it ("in a good way!" Orson says) and a "custom essay focused on doing nothing but denigrating the things the winning school finds deplorable."
Just going to leave this screenshot here now.
Yes, that's real. Or at least it is for me. /shakes fist at google personalization
Unfortunately, only round dollar amounts are available this year so you can't punch in your favorite score from a rivalry game unless you want to go big baller… or commemorate the Yakety Sax game with your 38.00.
Note: make sure to leave the school name in the DESIGNATION line, lest your donation not be credited to the glorious university you owe your lives, fortune, and honor to. If you need further hate to motivate you, that guy whose operative theory about why Brady Hoke will fail is "recruits too many NFL-sized offensive linemen who remind me of a guy who didn't work out for OSU" is suggesting that OSU fans should donate to "embarrass Michigan." Also he has not read the instructions closely enough, the bastard.
The last tie. 1992 OSU:
Reinstated. Josh Furman is back and ready to go. Given the way this worked out, couldn't he have been practicing? He and the team would have benefited and… like… it doesn't sound like anything happened except some yelling into a dorm room (and, of course, the heinous crime against Furman's locks).
Somehow this sums up everything perfectly. SBN headline:
College Football Playoffs: Which 2 Bowls Should Be Added To The BCS?
College football? College football.
The plan. Two and out for Trey Burke is the plan:
Dime: Do you plan on leaving school for the NBA if you have another good year next season?
TB: If I have a great season, and we go far, I probably will lean towards coming out. I can’t really speak on that right now, it’s too early. But I definitely will look into it and my coaches will help me look into it because they understand the type of situation I’m in.
It would be nice to get Michigan's hyped freshman point guard a little time to get his feet wet but I'll take it. Derrick Walton's happy about his choice right now.
The limit. It turns out I've got one when it comes to recruiting, and it's one the premium sites, Tremendous and UMHoops are now exploring on a daily basis. If I see a "2014" or even "2015" in front of a kid's name, I am unmoved unless they seem extremely good and likely to end up at M.
A comprehensive list of 2014 football recruits I am interested in hearing about at this juncture: Malik McDowell. Since some of them are ending up at M it is also interesting to figure out how good the next crop of Cass Tech kids is. IL CB Parrker Westphal just got offers from half the Big Ten and is coached by Todd Howard (yes that Todd Howard), so he's getting there. I may be interested in 2014 Mississippi SG Devin Booker, but am not sure yet.
This will change after football players' junior seasons; in basketball it will change when Beilein can fire out offers in June. Right now it's just all so futuristic, man. Like finding an NCAA tournament loss to a major underdog hits only a pile of scar tissue where your heart used to be, I assume this is an effect of being a hockey fan. When Tristin Llewellyn committed he was supposed to be amazing. This did not happen. Need more data before emotions get all emotional.
Under that limit. I am interested to hear how Michigan's 2013 basketball commits are doing during their AAU season. Zak Irvin's play continues to improve:
Zak Irvin (2013, Wing, Eric Gordon All-Stars – Commit)
Zak Irvin is without a doubt one of the better players in his class. His jumpshot is water and when he gets it going from beyond the arc it’s almost impossible to stop him. His long arms make him a terror at the top of the zone on defense. In man-to-man sets, he was easily the best on-ball defender on his team. Irvin’s team is loaded, with two players headed to Indiana, one to Notre Dame and another to Purdue, but when the Eric Gordon All-Stars needed buckets it seemed like Irvin was the primary option. Irvin’s handle is solid and he looked okay running point guard sporadically, though he had a few turnovers. Two areas of his game to watch are his passing ability and rebounding. He made a concerted effort to rebound all weekend and wound up with 12 in the final game of the day on Saturday. He was also able to find his teammates for easy buckets in the post after using his quickness to get by his defender.
Love the idea that Irvin can be a 6'5" shutdown perimeter defender in the mold of a Bernard Robinson Jr. Michigan hasn't had an elite defender since. Also in that post, Mark Donnal gets in a bunch of foul trouble. UMHoops also has an article on Donnal featuring his relationship with Dan Dakich, who happens to be his AAU coach.
You realize this makes you Mubarak, right? Jim Delany:
Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
“Not all change is manageable,” Delany said. “You want to control change. You want evolution, not revolution, because you don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.”
As always, Jim Delany should not say things.
Incoming defenders. The United States of Hockey also scouted the USA U18's defense corps, with all three of Michigan's commits turning in good performances. Trouba:
Jacob Trouba — It is plainly clear why Trouba is getting a lot of Top-10 buzz. He can do a little bit of everything. His pro-ready size and strength are going to be attractive to a lot of teams. He also plays with an edge and had several bone-crushing hits in the tournament. What people often forget is that Trouba is a tremendous skater. He has speed, sure, but there’s more to it than that. He’s able to find seems and turn it up ice quickly. Then there’s his cannon from the point. Trouba’s one goal at the tournament came off a stunning one-timer that required video review because it came right off the back bar in the net so quickly. He posted three points total. Knocks on his offensive upside are overblown, I feel. There are clearly many tools at this defenseman’s disposal. He should go early on Day 1. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Connor Carrick — Playing a strong game at both ends of the ice allowed Carrick to have a lot of success. The offensive-minded defenseman posted four points including a pair of goals. Carrick has good speed and some creativity with the puck. He also has pretty good strength along the walls, which makes up for his lack of height. Carrick also has a good feel for when to jump into plays and often makes good decisions when pinching. If Carrick ever got into trouble, he was able to recover with his feet. There should be a few teams that will be looking to pick up Carrick in the later rounds of the Draft. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Continues to sound like a bigger version of Langlais. Carrick's going to be important next year as Michigan tries to get that third pairing solidified, but if Michigan does hold on to all of their incoming defensemen they'll be in good shape.
Rutledge only got one start, a shutout—all games not against Canada were shutouts—in which he "bailed out" his team more than once. Click through for that report.
Etc.: The Solid Verbal features Dan, Ty, and Andy Staples talkin' playoffs. More Staples on playoffs. MVictors has audio of Willie Heston. If Dave Brandon was at FSU. Jerald Robinson's violence against a parking lot gate gets Michigan one point the Fulmer Cup. A second is added for "admiration."
Berkley Edwards: already on the roster, but named "Dennis Norfleet"
Guys, are the Michigan coaches really not offering Berkley Edwards? I understand he is small, but as fast as he is and the fact he is a legacy makes me question the thought here. I’ve noticed this hasn’t been mentioned at all since the ever mature Braylon went on Twitter to complain. At the very least, I hope the coaches reach out the Edwards family and keep any discussion out of the social media.
What I don’t get though is if he is someone Nebraska considers, can Michigan afford to overlook him? I know I really think that the Buckeyes not recruiting Mike McCray is going to come back to haunt them. I don’t want Berkley to come back and haunt us.
Berkley Edward's chances went from okay to slim when Michigan flipped Dennis Norfleet the day before Signing Day and from slim to life support when Brady Hoke went Donkey Kong on 2013 recruiting. At this point Michigan can afford to overlook someone Nebraska offers two scholarships and an earldom, let alone considers.
Michigan has 17 kids in the class and is going to somewhere between 22 and 24. Even if we take the most Edwards-friendly number, six of those seven scholarships are earmarked for:
- Ty Isaac
- Two wide receivers
- Three defensive linemen
So then you're talking about adding Edwards over another corner, safety, TE, or WR. Is a pint-sized tailback most likely to make an impact on special teams really a priority over one of those spots, especially when you already have three running backs in the class and recruited a seemingly-superior quarkback prospect in Norfleet the year previous? No.
Add in the likelihood that whoever Michigan is pursuing for spot 24 at one of those other positions is going to be a four-star type and it's a blowout. Offering Edwards makes no sense. McCray, a consensus four-star ranked in the top 100 by Rivals and ESPN with two dozen BCS offers including Oklahoma, is not even a comparison.
Edwards might have a shot if Isaac ends up at USC and Michigan can't latch on to another touted guy at tailback. Even in that situation it seems unlikely since Michigan is loaded with tiny darty return guys who are the only tailbacks Fred Jackson doesn't think are the second coming of Earl Campbell. He just does not make sense on the roster.
Wouldn't you rather have another safety? Safeties are important, yo.
I am not sure I followed your latest post. There might be something I am missing. I am not a fan of Brandon or this game, but I don't see how a home-and-home makes us better of financially. Let's say a bad opponent home game nets us 5 million. Playing Bama at home nets us 7 million. And for arguments sake lets say the return of a home-and-home with Bama would be in 2013.
The way it is
2012 Jerry Game: 4.7 million + 2013 crap team: 5 million = 9.7 million
2012 Bama: 7 million + 2013 at Bama: 0 = 7 million
2012 crap: 5 million + 2013 crap: 5 million = 10 million (but you don't get to play Bama; but the band is happy)
I would choose home and home if it was me because it is not my money and that is more fun, but I don't think that is the best choice financially. I would choose both over more UMass games.
The thing you and the OUTRAGED at OUTRAGE gang in the comments are missing is the ticket price. Apparently a game like Michigan-Alabama can support a ticket price range from $125 to $285. This is at a minimum 66% higher than Michigan is currently charging for bodybag games, not the 17% suggested in your email (remember that Michigan has to shell out about $2 million to get the one-off games in the No Bama scenario).
When the ticket prices came in 30 bucks or more—potentially much more—above what Michigan is charging for their "premium" game this year that changed the math drastically. Maybe that pricing is not sustainable over 110,000 tickets like it was for the 25,000 Michigan was given for Jerryworld, but… yeah, it totally is. Find me a Michigan fan who'd be less likely to buy a season ticket package this year that had 'Bama on it but was $50 more expensive. That person does not exist.
A correctly priced monster home-and-home is financially comparable to the dual punching bag scenario even without considering the ancillary benefits that will come from increased interest in season tickets, suites, goodwill from the fanbase, donations, etc. It would have made more sense for both Alabama and Michigan to schedule a game in Ann Arbor for 2013, then figure out where the return game goes later.
In the long term this is largely moot. After the Pac-12 agreement kicks in Michigan will have a road nonconference game every year except when the ND series takes its brief breaks. It's hard to imagine them adding a third opponent who would require Michigan to travel.
I just hate getting sold a bill of goods, is all.
Keep Crisler ArenaCenter weird.
Hey Brian. My buddy works with the guy that buys the costumes (and tickets) for the students wearing the lobster suits. With Smotrycz transferring, the lobsters are going to become bees through a glorious transformation. I hope this insider tidbit helps you get through the slow period and maybe even leads to some cool visions on your current meds.
I will miss the lobstryczs, but good on the Maize Rage for keeping the weird quotient high. I suggest someone purchase an enormous buffalo head mask so they can be Bielfeldt's Buffalo. Someone should wear a fez for no discernible reason. He should have one of those huge faces of himself wearing the fez, as well, cocking an eyebrow and looking suave.
Also also we're going to need a giant Canadian flag for Stauskas. And some guys dressed up like beetles who click their mandibles alarmingly during free throws. And there should be a moose. A live moose. With moose teeth. Wearing a toque. His name is Graham the Brown Moose, and he sets huge screens. In the event a live moose is not permitted in Crisler we will innovate.
In addition, on certain defensive possessions Crisler should adopt the disconcerting Yost penalty-kill hooting. Whenever Stauskas hits a three the entire student section should shout "You're my buddy, pal!" There will be a Mark Twain impersonator as well.
Addendum: we need a prominently located fat shirtless guy. On his chest we will paint an image of Glen Rice raising up for a three-pointer. He will not be allowed to shower. We should think about putting a hat on him as well. Hats are crucial for the entire operation. People should also dress like the future people in Bill and Ted.
These are reasonable suggestions. /jedi hand wave
Quick reminder: you've got one week to get it at the lowest price ----------------------->
so if you were waiting to get 13 more for grandma, better act fast.
So in preparation for Brian to be laid up on a cocktail of drugs they won't let you take while operating devices with internet connections, we underlings were fully prepared for one of those M.A.S.H. episodes when Colonel Blake has to leave the base and Hawkeye and Trapper hire a circus or something. Alas before Ace and I could declare ourselves the Pros from Dover and infiltrate the alumni golf game Brian turned out to be mostly lucid, meaning we now have loads of weird unpublished things taking up space in the hopper.
Here's one of those on Burke's return, which if you're old/young enough to get the phrase "The Cake is a Lie!" you'll get it; if you don't, don't bother.
A one-man advantage. If you like hockey and/or wanted to know what was up with Michigan's power play, I mean like really wanna know, your Diarist of the Week is JeepinBen for the first two parts of a three-part series on special teams strategy. Part the 1st, which got the bump, covered the basics and Part II got into penalty killing and controlling the neutral zone. Sample:
The powerplay is a lot like football plays – constraints are huge
This will come into view with the “Penalty Kill” diary, but depending on what the offense is doing, the defense does something and vice versa. There are ways to break kills, kills designed to stop specific powerplays, etc.
Learn what you were actually doing when you selected "umbrella or something" in NHL '99, and you too will be able to offer intelligent criticism when Michigan uses 25 minutes of man advantage in an elimination game to stand around with the puck. Not sold yet? There's Slapshots clips in those links.
Stray thought re Slapshots clips: Do you think Valeri Bure used to skate behind guys' nets and exclaim "I'm doing D.J. Tanner!" because that would totally screw with pretty much every guy in my generation.
Spring's springing. We have this one week to sample this year's line of football. It's not a real game so there won't be predictions and MonuMental backgrounds for this one coming, but Lanyard Program came out with one of his programs. The part that is totally real is the lacrosse game immediately after the fake football: Michigan will finally face Ohio's state university letterman to letterman. MaizeAndBlueWahoo, our resident LAX man, got his lacrosse primer bumped.
Winter's coming. By which we mean the cessation of football hostilities and many peaceful months pockmarked by commitments before fall football begins and the wars resume. User Silly Goose compares various programs to Game of Thrones houses. When describing Michigan as the Starks he left out the part about how we chop off the heads of deserters, which teaches us important moral lessons about leadership. And instead of all of the houses battling it out in a single playoff they decide things by getting into ill-defined wars between each other. The allegories fit pretty strongly, which probably says something Campbellian about ascribing character archetypes to sports rivals (if you make this your essay for Rabkin's class I wanna see it!). Blazefire seems to think when winter comes it will be zombies from Ohio THE Stadium.
Etc. Ace's weekly rankings. The Gedeon announcement will bump next week's but if you want to get a jump now to see Midwest power programs filling up—not like 16 commits in April filling up, but 7 to 10 each—it's here. Tennis wins. Blockhams are reliving the best 1:17 of their lives.
#Best of the Board
OHIO WANT IT THEN THEY SHOULDA PUT A RING ON IT
The more I learn about the methods people were using to lure Trey Burke to the NBA…
NOTRE DAME IS QUARTERBACKLESS, USING A RECEIVER AS THEIR HB, HAD ONE OF THEIR BEST PLAYERS RECENTLY RETURN FROM A VISION QUEST, AND OF COURSE ARE GOING TO WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE IT'S NOTRE DAME.
Those are the key points from hart20 on the state of things in the town under our state.
#HASHTAGS CREATE BUSINESS SYNERGY
This doesn't have anything to do with anything but this blog by friend of MGoUser antoo had six rounds of ideas for hashtags Dave Brandon should copyright in order to better use technology as a competitive advantage to engage and connect to fans who use hashtags.
HE'S GOING TO EASTERN MICHIGAN!
The moderator sticky is a serious place where the moderators and editors and other site personnel solemnly explain why your post was deleted, your points were docked, and your avatar is suddenly a pretty pink pony. We take this very seriously and are totally not making fun of you in there.
This was a triumph. I'm making a note here:
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.
We do what we must because we can.
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead.
But there's no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun
For the people who are still alive.
I'm not even angry.
I'm being so sincere right now.
Even though you broke my heart and killed me.
And tore me to pieces.
And threw every piece into a fire.
As they burned it hurt because
I was so happy for you.
Now these points of data make a beautiful line
And we're out of beta we're releasing on time.
So I'm GLaD I got burned think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive.
(I was all like…)
THAT WAS A JOKE. HA HA, FAT CHANCE.
Anyway, this cake is great:
It's so delicious and moist.
(But now I'm all like…)
Look at me still talking when there's science to do.
When I look out there it makes me GLaD I'm not you.
I've experiments to run there is research to be done
On the people who are still alive
And believe me I am still alive.
I'm doing science and I'm still alive.
P.S. I feel FANTASTIC and I'm still alive.
P.P.S. While you're dying I'll be still alive.
Final thought: And when you're dead I will be still alive.
Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary: Capable of dunking
Now that Trey Burke has announced his return to the Michigan basketball program, we can all emerge from our panic rooms and take a look at the roster for next year. Since the end of the season, Michigan has lost five scholarship players—Zack Novak and Stu Douglass to graduation; Evan Smotrycz, Colton Christian, and Carlton Brundidge to transfer—and pulled in a commitment from point guard Spike Albrecht. With today's news that the Wolverines are no longer pursuing combo guard Amadeo Della Valle, the roster is set barring a graduate-year transfer. Here's one man's guess at the 2012-13 depth chart:
|Point Guard||Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Trey Burke||Tim Hardaway Jr.||Glenn Robinson III||Mitch McGary||Jordan Morgan|
|Spike Albrecht||Nick Stauskas||Matt Vogrich||Max Bielfeldt||Jon Horford|
|Eso Akunne||-||-||-||Blake McLimans|
Schwing. That's a lineup featuring an All-American (honorable mention) point guard, an enigmatic but uber-talented shooting guard, two five-star freshmen at the 3 and 4, and a proven Big Ten center. It's also a lineup with a fair amount of versatility. If Michigan wants to go small, they can play GRIII at power forward and slide either Nick Stauskas or Matt Vogrich to the wing, adding some extra outside shooting. Going bigger is pretty unnecessary, since the presumed starters outside of Burke all have more than adequate size for their position—no more 6'4" guys in the post.
At point guard, once again it pretty much starts and ends with Trey Burke, but the pickup of Albrecht gives the team some options. Albrecht's main strengths are basketball savvy and passing ability; should he pick up on the offense quickly enough, he can provide Burke with a few minutes of rest without sacrificing much offensive flow. Nick Stauskas is a natural shooting guard, but he's a slick passer. If he can just be adequate at handling the basketball, he could also help ease the load on Burke. While Burke will undoubtedly play well over 30 minutes a game once again, there's hope that he won't be forced to log the 40 (or more) minute efforts he did as a freshman.
The key to a successful season—and next year, success means a Big Ten title and/or a deep run in the NCAA tournament—is the production of Tim Hardaway Jr. Can he improve his shot selection and return to the efficient scoring ways of his freshman campaign, or will he continue to be maddeningly inconsistent on both sides of the ball? Who knows, though I'd like to think he won't shoot 28% from downtown again. The good news is that with a four-star gunner in Stauskas and good secondary scoring options in GRIII and McGary, Michigan won't have to lean so heavily on Hardaway to carry the non-Burke scoring load. Stauskas hopefully will be the guy who finally lives up to his high school reputation as a deadly marksman; if he does, this team gets a whole lot more dangerous and versatile.
I'm guessing Glenn Robinson III steps right in and starts at small forward after surging to five-star status over the last several months. GRIII brings a level of athleticism on the wing that Michigan hasn't seen in a long time; the Burke-to-Robinson alley-oop combination should provide some Sportscenter Top 10 moments. Robinson should also be able to create his own shot heading towards the basket, something nobody outside of Hardaway could do with any consistency last season. Backing up GRIII will likely be Matt Vogrich, who will hopefully break through as an outside shooter while continuing to provide a surprising level of rebounding and defensive hustle.
The ballyhooed Mitch McGary should start right away at power forward with Smotrycz heading elsewhere. While his stock has dropped a bit since his commitment, McGary is still an instant-impact guy, and I'm very interested to see what he can bring to Beilein's burgeoning pick-and-roll game. McGary has the bounce necessary to take a quick pass off the roll and attack the basket with ferocity, something Jordan Morgan has struggled with in the past. With teams justifiably focused on stopping Burke, McGary could be the beneficiary of a lot of easy looks around the hoop. His high motor and effort should make him a force on the boards, as well. After redshirting last season, Max Bielfeldt has a chance to earn some PT at the four, being the guy who most fits the Beilein mold of a big who can stretch the floor. If he can hold his own defensively and on the glass, Bielfeldt could be a surprisingly solid weapon off the bench.
Jordan Morgan returns and should continue to provide high-percentage shooting, solid rebounding, and quality interior defense. While his ceiling doesn't appear to be especially high, Morgan has steadily improved in his Michigan career, and we'll likely see him take another step forward as a junior. If that step forward includes even a rudimentary post game (or at least better finishing on layup opportunities), the masses would be quite pleased. Morgan could be pushed for playing time by Jon Horford, who returns from a foot injury. Horford isn't as polished as Morgan, but he's more athletic and provides a better shot-blocking presence on defense. He should get at least 15 minutes a game next year, especially if Morgan's propensity for foul trouble continues to plague him. Blake McLimans may just be the odd man out with Michigan's new-found depth up front.
So, what's the outlook? While the Big Ten is loaded next year—the news that Christian Watford and Cody Zeller both return makes Indiana a potential national contender—Michigan is set to challenge for the conference crown and could be a Final Four team if a few things fall the right way. Getting Hardaway back on track is the key, assuming Robinson and McGary live up to their lofty recruiting rankings. While Michigan doesn't have a lineup loaded with shooters like Beilein's West Virginia squads, they have more athleticism and a dynamite point guard that the Mountaineers never had. Beilein's offense became more guard-centric the past two seasons with Darius Morris and Burke running the show, and that should continue next year. Expect to see more evolution from the offense as the coaches adjust to having a much bigger team, and possibly a shift back to more zone defense to better fit the personnel.
The expectations for next year are dramatically higher than they've been in Ann Arbor since the Fab Five era, and those expectations are justified. An experienced Burke coupled with a hopefully reinvigorated Hardaway should take this team a long way. If the freshmen produce as expected, Michigan will take the next (big) leap forward under John Beilein, going from Big Ten dark horse to national contender.