With basketball season fast approaching, let's take a look at Michigan's non-conference schedule, and see what the Wolverines are up against this winter. A more thorough rundown of Saturday's opponent may be coming later this week, but it's pretty difficult to find information on D-2 teams.
November 14: Northern Michigan
Home, Big Ten Network
2009 Record: 11-16, 6-16 GLIAC
2009 Final RPI: N/A (Division 2)
2009 Final Pomeroy: N/A (Division 2)
Key Players: Guards Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy led the team in scoring last year, with 14.2 and 13.0 points/game, respectively. Both have good size, at 6-2. McElroy is the team's sharpshooter, making 42.2% of his threes last year. Fellow guard Chris Warner was third on the team with 10.4 points/game, and he specialized at getting to the free throw line, with 136 attempts. Unfortunately, he only shot 68.4% from the stripe. He also led the team in rebounds and foul-outs.
Key Losses: Wing Tyler Kazmierkoski was fourth on the team in scoring at 10.4 points/game. He's not listed on the Northern roster, but was only a sophomore last year. 6-6 forward Kyle Greene is also not listed on the roster, and he was second on the team in boards last year. Both players are still on the team, per ESPN, so I don't know what to think.
Notes: If the GLIAC sounds familiar, it's because Michigan's only opponent to date, Wayne State, also hails from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Last year, Wayne finished 10-12 in the GLIAC, though they played in the opposite division. The teams met up twice, with the road team emerging victorious in each contest.
November 20: Houston Baptist
2009 Record: 4-25, Independent
2009 Final RPI: 312
2009 Final Pomeroy: 324
Key Players: Mario Flaherty is a 6-9 white guy with an Italian and Irish name. He played about 50% of the team's minutes last year, which doesn't sound like much. Except it's by far the most of any returning player. He's a banger down low, as the tallest guy on the team last year, he led in blocks and was second in drawing fouls. The only other contributor from last year's team that returns is 6-7 forward Fred Hinnenkamp, who had the worst offensive rating of anyone on the team, at 55.3.
Key Losses: This should be a pretty robust category, considering Baptist played 10 seniors last year, in addition to one sophomore, Jeremy Havard, who is no longer with the team. Just look at what Flaherty and Hinninekamp did last year, and keep in mind that EVERYTHING ELSE has been lost from the team. That includes the top 4 in minutes played, and the team's two most important players, forward Gordon Watt and guard Brandon Sauls.
Notes: This team was bad last year. This team loses almost every single ounce of production, both offensively and defensively from last year's team. It shouldn't be pretty in Crisler Arena come next Friday.
November 26: Creighton
Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), ESPN2
2009 Record: 26-7, 15-5 Missouri Valley
2009 Final RPI: 40
2009 Final Pomeroy: 76
Key Players: Junior guard P'Allen Stinnett led the team in minutes played and steals last year, in addition to getting fouled and going to the line frequently. Senior forward Justin Carter was the team's top rebounder both offensively and defensively, despite standing just 6-4. Senior Cavel Witter was the team's second point guard last season.
Key Losses: Creighton actually fielded a fairly young team last year (making them dangerous this season), but they did lose two important contributors. Guards Booker Woodfox(!) and Josh Dotzler were second and fourth, respectively, in minutes played. Dotzler led the team in assists, and was second nationally in steal percentage. Woodfox has an awesome name, and was by far the team's best shooter.
November 27 & 29: TBA
Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), ESPN or ESPNU
Notes: Michigan's 2nd and 3rd-round opponents will be determined by the results of Round 1. Possibilities for Round 2 are Marquette and Xavier. A more thorough preview of the Old Spice Classic as it approaches.
December 2: Boston College
Home (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), ESPN2
2009 Record: 22-11, 10-8 ACC
2009 Final RPI: 60
2009 Final Pomeroy: 69
Key Players: The Eagles only played one senior last year, so they return lots and lots of depth, particularly in their 6-man junior class. Forwards Joe Trapani and Corey Raji and wing Rakim Sanders are the most important returners form last year's team. The 6-6 Raji led the 2008-09 Eagles in offensive rating, rebounding, and HOLDING ON TO THE DAMN BALL. Trapani, at 6-9, was the best blocker and defensive rebounder. Sanders took the most shots on the team, on with good reason - he was the best shooter for BC. However, like junior center Josh Southern, he was known to get in a bit of foul trouble.
Key Losses: Tyrese Rice was the only Eagle who graduated this offseason. He played the most minutes on the team by a healthy margin, and racked up a good number of assists. He was also the only BC player who could consistently get to the free throw line.
Notes: Rice is a big loss, but Boston College should be able to absorb the departure of just one player. This should be the first really good test for the Wolverines. A home win here would also give the Big Ten a chance to (finally) win the BigTen/ACC Challenge. More on that as the event approaches.
December 5: Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Home, BigTenNetwork.com or ESPNU
2009 Record: 13-18, 12-8 SWAC
2009 Final RPI: 250
2009 Final Pomeroy: 311
Key Players: Senior guard Terrance Calvin was the team's leader last year, playing the most minutes, dishing out the most assists, and consistently drawing fouls. 6-7 forward Tyree Glass, a senior, took up the most possessions for the Golden Lions, while pulling down the most offensive rebounds and drawing the most fouls. Sophomore guard Savalance Townshend has an awesome name, and played the second-most minutes on the team, while committing the fewest fouls. Senior forward Tavaris Washington was the team's best shooter, and he was also second in both block percentage and steal percentage. He got to the foul line more than any other player for Pine Bluff.
Key Losses: Arkansas-Pine Bluff didn't have any seniors last year, but forward Ricky Parks and guard Eric Brooks are not on this year's roster. Parks got limited playing time and didn't accrue any meaningful stats, but Brooks played 41% of available minutes, and was the team's steals leader.
Notes: Pine Bluff will be Michigan's second experienced opponent in a row, though they don't have nearly the talent that Boston College does. They were a poor team last year, but should be improved. Off three days' rest, this could be a tough turnaround for Michigan, but both games are at home, and it's difficult (though not impossible) to see an upset in the making.
December 9: Utah
Away, CBS College Sports
2009 Record: 24-8, 15-4 Mountain West
2009 Final RPI: 9
2009 Final Pomeroy: 30
Key Players: Utah was a very experienced team last year, and they lost a lot of talent. The key returners for the Utes are junior guard Carlon Brown, who was a liability shooting the ball, but assisted others at a good clip, while pulling down a ton of rebounds, and Luka Drca, another big guard (both are 6-5) who led the team in assists and was a good shooter. 6-11 Frenchman Kim Tillie will likely occupy the middle in his senior season, and sophomore wing Jace Tavita will hope to get more playing time than he did last year. Redshirt sophomore David Foster hasn't played for Utah yet, but he is an enormous center at 7-3.
Key Losses: Center Luke Nevill played the most minutes on the team, absorbed the most possessions, and led the team in rebounding, blocks, and drawing fouls. He is a big loss, both literally and figuratively. Wing Lawrence Borha and guard Tyler Kepkay played the second- and third-most minutes on the team, respectively. Forward Shaun Green had the team's best offensive rating, as he led in shooting and turnover percentage, and was third in assists.
Notes: Though Utah lost a ton of talent from last year's team, this is still Michigan's first true road game, which should be a good test. The Utes have lots of size, and that could cause matchup problems for Michigan's slightly-smaller team.
December 13: Detroit
Home, Big Ten Network
2009 Record: 6-23, 2-17 Horizon
2009 Final RPI: 281
2009 Final Pomeroy: 279
Key Players: 6-7 forward Thomas Kennedy, a senior, used the most possessions (and took the most shots) of any Titan last year. Alas, he wasn't particularly good at shooting, which is pretty much the same story for the rest of the team. 6-7 forward Xavier Keeling returns after missing most of last year with a foot injury. Senior guard Woody Payne played the most minutes on the team, leading in assists, steals, and free throw rate. Fellow senior guard Eulis Stephens has better size at 6-5, but took a lot of shots and didn't make very many of them.
Key Losses: Forwards Nemanja Jokic and Michael Harrington are no longer with the team, and Harrington was a key part of the Titans' effort last year. He led in rebounding on both ends of the floor, and also drew a bunch of fouls from the opposition.
Notes: Detroit was a bad team last year, and there's no reason to expect any thing other than that for this year as well. Having Keeling all season might help, as he played one season for Indiana back before the Hoosiers were a laughingstock. Still, he's not a can't-miss prospect, on a team that direly needs one.
December 19: Kansas
2009 Record: 25-7, 14-3 Big 12
2009 Final RPI: 11
2009 Final Pomeroy: 10
Key Players: Oh god, just take your pick. Point guard Sherron Collins is on the (very) short list of Naismith candidates, Center Cole Aldrich is a terror in the paint, guard Tyshawn Taylor is exceptional at getting to the basket (or getting fouled on the way there), and guard Brady Morningstar is not only Lucifer, but a deadly 3-point shooter. This team is frickin' loaded.
Key Losses: Nobody. The Jayhawks didn't lose a single important contributor.
Notes: Oh, so that's why they're the consensus number one team in the country, huh? If there's one thing the Jayhawks don't have, it's a ton of size. Still. Kansas is freakin' loaded, and Michigan's goal will probably be not getting blown out.
December 22: Coppin State
2009 Record: 12-19, 10-8 MEAC
2009 Final RPI: 221
2009 Final Pomeroy: 266
Key Players: Sophomore wing guard Michael Harper was Coppin State's most effective offensive player last year, and also the team's best shooter. He'll probably lead Coppin this year. Guard Vince Goldsberry will play a bigger role, and senior Sam Coleman will hold down the middle after leading the team in rebounding and blocks last year.
Key Losses: Guard Tywain McKee did everything for Coppin State last year, playing nearly every available minute, taking up a ton of possessions, leading in assists, stealing the ball a bunch, and drawing fouls. Yeah, he's gone, as is Chuka Iloegbu, a 6-3 forward who played about half of the team's minutes.
Notes: One really interesting thing pops out about Coppin State - they don't foul a whole lot, with 4 players from last years roster coming in ranked for fewest fouls committed per 40 minutes. They're also a pretty small team, and MIchigan should be able to take care of them pretty easily.
January 17: Connecticut
2009 Record: 27-4, 15-4 Big East
2009 Final RPI: 8
2009 Final Pomeroy: 3
Key Players: Senior guard Jerome Dyson led the team in steals last year, and was pretty good at drawing fouls. He was pretty good (though not great) in a number of other categories as well, though he missed 12 games for the Huskies. Sophomore guard Kemba Walker was a good assist man, and got to the line at a decent clip. Senior forward Stanley Robinson has been a good offensive rebounder and blocker.
Key Losses: You may have heard of this Hasheem Thabeet fellow, who went #2 overall in the NBA draft. Guard AJ Price was also drafted, though in the second round. Other losses include forward Jeff Adrien, who actually played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and guard Craig Austrie, who took very good care of the ball last year.
Notes: Michigan fans may remember that, despite Thabeet getting the full Blake Griffin treatment from the officials, the Wolverines lost by just 8 at UConn this year. The 2009-10 Huskies are not nearly as good (though they still do have a couple projected draft picks on their team), and MIchigan has them at home. This should be a tough battle, and it's too bad it has to come in the middle of a tough conference stretch with Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan State.