B1G/ACC Challenge Matchups: M Heading To Dean Dome
I guess this qualifies as a marquee opponent.
This year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchups were released today by ESPN's Jeff Goodman. Michigan drew one of the marquee games: they'll travel to Chapel Hill to face defending national champion North Carolina. Here's the full slate of games; dates and times are still TBD:
Northwestern at Georgia Tech
Duke at Indiana
Notre Dame at Michigan State
Miami at Minnesota
Penn State at NC State
Boston College at Nebraska
Michigan at North Carolina
Clemson at Ohio State
Louisville at Purdue
Florida State at Rutgers
Maryland at Syracuse
Wisconsin at Virginia
Iowa at Virginia Tech
Illinois at Wake Forest
This will be the first time Michigan has faced Carolina in the challenge, as well as their first trip to the Dean Dome. It's the first matchup between the two programs since a certain game in 1993 that never happened and definitely didn't end horribly for the Wolverines. The nonconference schedule is beginning to come together; M will play in the Maui Invitational, host UCLA, travel to Texas, and face Detroit at Little Caesars Arena.
The UNC squad we'll see in November will look quite different from the one that beat Gonzaga for the title in March. The entire starting frontcourt of Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and early NBA Draft entry Justin Jackson is gone, as are key reserves Nate Britt and Tony Bradley.
They still won't lack for talent, of course. ESPN has UNC seventh in their too-early preseason rankings. The starting guard tandem of Joel Berry and Theo Pinson returns and there's plenty of talent coming up from the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes. In addition, they landed a major piece as a grad transfer, and it's a player Michigan fans had held out hope for...
Cam Johnson to UNC
Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson, a 6'8" sharpshooter who would've been a great fit at the four in Beilein's system, announced on Tuesday that he'll head to UNC for his final two seasons of eligibility. Pitt coach and noted jerk Kevin Stallings restricted Johnson from transferring to other ACC programs without sitting out a year, but now that Johnson's transfer has been approved he's making a strong push for immediate eligibility:
Johnson also cited an NCAA rule that stipulates graduate transfers be allowed to compete immediately at a given school, or be completely denied the opportunity to transfer to that school. Pitt is allowing Johnson to transfer to UNC, and receive immediate athletic financial aid. And so, Johnson argued, given that he wasn’t prohibited from transferring to UNC, he should be immediately eligible there.
During a recent interview, Johnson said he graduated from Pitt with a 3.9 GPA. In his statement, he wrote that Pitt officials cited his strong academic record in their decision to allow him to transfer to an ACC school and receive immediate athletic financial aid.
Johnson has a strong case and public opinion on his side; I'd expect him to be on the court this season.
This may spell the end of Michigan's pursuit of grad transfers barring another name popping up late. Johnson was the last available player who had confirmed contact with the coaching staff. The Wolverines haven't been mentioned in connection with Illinois State grad transfer MiKyle McIntosh, who's visited Oklahoma, Oregon, and Oregon State. McIntosh appears to be a top priority for the Ducks, who were also hoping to land Johnson.
Ignas Brazdeikis Not Reclassifying
Another possibility for filling the open scholarship was having four-star Canadian wing Ignas Brazdeikis—who's at #39 overall in today's updated Scout rankings—reclassify from 2018 to the 2017 class. While Brazdeikis took that under consideration, he ultimately decided to stay in 2018, per UMHoops' Orion Sang:
Traded texts with Ignas Brazdeikis, a four-star forward in the class of 2018. Brazdeikis told me that he WILL NOT be reclassifying to the class of 2017. He also said he has no visits planned for this summer and that Michigan is "most definitely" still one of his top teams.
While Brazdeikis remains a top target for 2018, he won't help fill the hole left in this season's rotation by DJ Wilson's departure, and it's looking increasingly possible that Michigan will bank that open scholarship. This post on Michigan's post-DJ outlook from a couple weeks ago may be relevant to your interests.