The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview Top Fives In The Big Ten What a difference a year makes, both for Michigan and the conference in which it competes. The Wolverines have moved from a projected cellar dweller to a top-four squad in most estimates, while the Big Ten lost several standouts and surprisingly retained others. Here���s a quick-hitter look at the top five teams, players and freshmen in the conference for 2011-12. Top Five Teams 1. Ohio State ��� Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale are gone, taking a ton of talent and muscle away from the Buckeyes. But the moment big man Jared Sullinger opted to stay put in Columbus ��� spurning a one-and-done jump to the NBA ��� Ohio State became the favorite to defend its Big Ten title. His 17.2 scoring average and 10.2 rebounding average, coupled with returning point guard Aaron Craft���s defense and assist prowess (4.8 average), will be tough to tackle. pains, but each brings plenty of talent to the table, to go along with tons of returning starting experience in seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, sophomores Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz, and redshirt sophomore big man Jordan Morgan. 4. Michigan State ��� The Spartans slipped back last year, meaning Tom Izzo will be driving with extra ferocity to bring them back up. He���s got some tools at his disposal, starting with senior forward Draymond Green, MSU���s leader in scoring (12.6), rebounds (8.6) and assists (4.1) last year. Losing forward Delvon Roe to perpetually bad knees will hurt, but the Spartans feature enough young talent to challenge. 5. Purdue ��� Robbie Hummel is back (again), and if he can stay healthy, the Boilermakers could move up. Hummel has gone down to knee injuries in each of the past two seasons, but he will rejoin senior Lewis Jackson, the Boilermakers��� leading returning player in scoring (8.0), rebounds (3.2) and assists (4.0) from last year. Freshman Donnie Hale, a 6-8 forward, will be one to keep an eye on. Top Five Players 1. Jared Sullinger, 6-9, 280, So., Ohio State ��� He could be awaiting an NBA season right now. Instead, he���s back to terrorize the Big Ten. 2. Jordan Taylor, 6-1, 195, Sr., Wisconsin ��� A skilled scorer amid the backboard busters in Madison, Taylor lifts the Badgers to another level. 3. William Buford, 6-5, 205, Sr., Ohio State ��� Buford also considered a jump to the NBA after last season. The slick senior guard decided he���d rather try and top his 44.2 percent three-point accuracy and 84.3 percent free throw shooting efforts from last year in Columbus. 4. Trevor Mbakwe, 6-8, 240, Sr., Minnesota ��� Mbakwe is back for one more year, the senior seeking to match or improve on the 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds he averaged last season. 5. Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-5, 185, So., Michigan ��� Hardaway proved a key component in Michigan���s drive to the NCAA Tournament last year. After scoring 13.9 points per game as a true freshman, he���s ready to turn it loose in season two. Ohio State head coach Thad Matta's squad is the clear favorite to capture the Big Ten this season, thanks in large part to the return of big man Jared Sullinger. Photo by Per Kjeldsen 2. Wisconsin ��� The Badgers are always ridiculously difficult to beat at home, and they���ll be back at their banging best this season. They have a legitimate star in senior guard Jordan Taylor (18.1 scoring average) to go with the burly big men. The Badgers did lose top scorer Jon Leuer (18.3), but Bo Ryan always readies replacements and has the Badgers near the top. 3. Michigan ��� John Beilein���s crew is starting to make a move and might have been listed higher had Darius Morris returned for his junior season at point guard. Freshmen Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge will experience growing Top Five Freshmen 1. Cody Zeller, 6-11, 220, Indiana ��� Zeller, a skilled 6-11 performer, turned down North Carolina and could quickly begin raising Indiana���s hopes. 2. Branden Dawson, 6-6, 205, Michigan State ��� The 6-6 frosh is a ferocious rebounder and will seek to jump into the Spartans��� lineup early. 3. Trey Burke, 6-1, 170, Michigan ��� Ohio���s Mr. Basketball last season will try to make Michigan fans forget Darius Morris quickly. 4. Shannon Scott, 6-2, 165, Ohio State ��� The point guard brings prep All-American credentials to the table, further stacking Ohio State���s deck. 5. Mike Shaw, 6-8, 230, Illinois ��� The rock-solid forward should provide an immediate injection of talent into the Illini lineup. ��� John Borton November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 55

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