The Wolverine

November 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 53 2018-19 BASKETBALL PREVIEW 1. Michigan State (30-5 overall, 16-2 Big Ten last year) Following the early departures of forward Miles Bridges and center Jaren Jackson to the NBA, the Spartans will need a trio of juniors in point guard Cassius Winston (No. 9), guard Josh Lang- ford (No. 59) and center Nick Ward (No. 33) — three of Lindy's top 60 players nationally — to become the go-to guys. MSU doesn't have the star-laden talent last year's group had, but should still be considered the Big Ten favorite — almost by default — in a league that appears to lack an elite team. 2. Michigan (33-8, 13-5) The Wolverines should be in good position to once again make a deep NCAA Tournament run with junior point guard Za- vier Simpson and redshirt junior guard Charles Matthews run- ning the show. There will likely be growing pains early as sopho- mores Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers transition into bigger roles on offense, but the immense po- tential this team has is impossible to ignore. 3. Maryland (19-13, 8-10) Junior point guard Anthony Cowan returns as the heart and soul of the Terrapins, but will be surrounded by two freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup. The youngsters have high ceilings, though, especially in the frontcourt — sophomore cen- ter Bruno Fernando returned to school despite reportedly being told he'd be a second-round NBA Draft pick, while freshman five- star power forward Jalen Smith was rated the No. 24 player in the country out of high school. 4. Indiana (16-15, 9-9) The Hoosiers look to be the most improved team in the con- ference after last year's 16-15 dis- appointment. Consensus five-star guard Romeo Langford is expected to be one of the best players in the Big Ten, while senior Juwan Morgan and junior De'Ron Davis form one of the league's best frontcourts. 5. Purdue (30-7, 15-3) The Boilermakers will have a revamped look after losing four starters, but should remain in the upper echelon of the confer- ence thanks to the return of junior combo guard Carsen Edwards. How well his surrounding cast performs will determine whether or not Purdue returns to the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight year. 6. Ohio State (25-9, 15-3) The Buckeyes will undoubtedly take a step back from last year's 25-9 finish after losing two of their three leading scorers in forwards Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate. Ohio State over- achieved in head coach Chris Holtmann's first year and will need to do so once again if it hopes to return to the Big Dance. 7. Nebraska (22-11, 13-5) Four starters are back from a squad that went 13-5 in league play, although there is almost no experience on the roster out- side of the five projected starters. Expectations are high in Lin- coln, but it's difficult to project Nebraska to finish in the upper tier of the Big Ten when considering it has won more than six league games just twice during head coach Tim Miles' six years. 8. Wisconsin (15-18, 7-11) The Badgers' top eight scorers return from last season's squad that missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. The question remains the same in Madison, though — does fifth- year senior center Ethan Happ have enough help around him to return the Badgers to their winning ways? 9. Iowa (14-19, 4-14) Youth was a big reason the Hawkeyes stumbled to a 14-19 record in 2017-18. Junior forward Tyler Cook and sopho- more center Luka Garza should give Iowa one of the league's best front- courts after combining for 27.4 points and 13.2 rebounds per game a year ago. Freshman guard Joe Wieskamp (Rivals' No. 43 player in the country) will provide an immediate spark to the backcourt. 10. Minnesota (15-17, 4-14) Head man Richard Pitino could be coaching for his job in 2018-19, but has one of the most experienced starting lineups in the Big Ten. The team sunk to a 15-17 mark after expectations were sky high entering last season, so it's hard to anticipate a major bounce back from the Gophers. 11. Penn State (26-13, 9-9) Do-it-all guard Tony Carr is off to the NBA, leaving a major scoring void on offense. If head coach Pat Chambers wasn't able to make the NCAA Tourna- ment when Carr was running the show, it's hard to envision the Nittany Lions making it this season. 12. Illinois (14-18, 4-14) The Illini should have one of the league's best backcourts with sophomore Trent Frazier (12.5 points per game) and five-star freshman Ayo Dosunmu, but the frontcourt is a mess. The rebuild will remain in full effect for second-year coach Brad Underwood. 13. Northwestern (15-17, 6-12) The loss of guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey should only continue the Wildcats' downfall. How well fifth-year senior guard Ryan Taylor and redshirt junior forward A.J. Turner (trans- fers from Evansville and Boston College, respectively) assimilate to the team will be the key to Northwestern's season. 14. Rutgers (15-19, 3-15) Point guard Corey Sanders' early departure to the NBA was a blow head man Steve Pikiell simply couldn't afford, leaving the Rutgers offense once again lacking scorers. Climbing out of the Big Ten basement should be the team's primary goal this year. — Austin Fox PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH IN THE BIG TEN Point guard Cassius Winston leads a trio of Spartans ranked among the nation's top 60 players by Lindy's. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN STATE ATHLETICS

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