The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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26 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2021 T here are plenty of questions to be answered between now and when the college basketball season begins in November, but that hasn't stopped oddsmakers and national analysts from projecting what each top team will look like come the 2021‑22 campaign. After going 23‑5, winning the Big Ten outright and advancing to the Elite Eight, national pundits have tabbed head coach Juwan Howard's Michigan Wolverines as a top‑25 team heading into next season, with some even putting them within the top five of their rankings. Las Vegas is also taking notice of the Maize and Blue. FanDuel Sports‑ book has U‑M as the title favor‑ ite, tied with Gonzaga, with 9‑to‑1 odds to be the last team standing on April 4, 2022, the date of the national championship game. Meanwhile, Barstool Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook have U‑M with the sec‑ ond‑best national title odds at 12‑to‑ 1, behind only Gonzaga (9‑to‑1). The Athletic's Seth Davis is one of the most bullish on the Wolverines, placing them at No. 2 in the country — behind only the Gonzaga Bulldogs — in his early rankings that were released April 6. His reasoning is simple: U‑M has talent in the form of key players who are likely to return and the nation's No. 1 recruiting class. "The big question is whether [fresh‑ man center Hunter] Dickinson leaves for the NBA, but even if he does the Wolverines will still be a top‑10 team," Davis opined. "Juwan Howard has shown he is an excellent coach, and now he has assembled the nation's No. 1 class, headlined by three Mc‑ Donald's All‑Americans in [four‑star power forward] Moussa Diabate, [five‑ star small forward] Caleb Houstan and [four‑star shooting guard] Kobe Bufkin. "Don't count out the possibil‑ ity that [senior guards Eli] Brooks or [Chaundee] Brown, and possibly both, will be back in Ann Arbor."'s Andy Katz also has U‑M at No. 2, and it's the same ac‑ cording to Sports Illustrated's Kevin Sweeney. "Juwan Howard will have a loaded roster," Katz wrote. "This will be a very young Michi‑ gan team if Juwan Howard can't con‑ vince some of his seniors to come back for one last go‑round, but the Wolverines should be elite regard‑ less," Sweeney added. Meanwhile, USA Today's Scott Gleeson listed the Maize and Blue at No. 4, behind No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Gonzaga. "The Wolverines likely lose Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner to the NBA, but there's a strong chance they bring back second‑team All‑American Hunter Dickinson and key players in the nucleus," he wrote, adding that the nation's No. 1 recruiting class will obviously help. CBS Sports' Gary Parrish has U‑M at No. 8, also on the condition that Dickinson returns. He wrote that he expects the sophomore to be the Big Ten Player of the Year. Stadium's Jeff Goodman also be‑ lieves the Wolverines will be one of the country's best teams no matter who returns, but has them tabbed a bit more conservatively at No. 12. Fellow Big Ten teams Ohio State (No. 2), Purdue (No. 4) and Mary‑ land (No. 5) were placed ahead of the Maize and Blue in his countdown. "We'll see what happens with Dick‑ inson and also whether maybe one of Brooks or Brown returns to Ann Ar‑ bor," Goodman wrote. "But even if one of those guys leave, Juwan Howard is bringing in a star‑studded class with a trio of McDonald's All‑Americans. "There's still a lot to be ironed out, but the Wolverines should have enough talent to be in the top 20 — and maybe even higher." Where's Jeff Borzello ranked U‑M — No. 17 — was the lowest out of any ranking. Unlike some of the aforementioned writers, Borzello is a bit uneasy about all the uncertainty surrounding U‑M's ros‑ ter, which is understandable given that his starting lineup projection did   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL U-M Is Listed As A National Title Favorite And Top-Five Team For 2021-22 Following a 23-5 season that ended with an Elite Eight berth, many college basketball prog- nosticators expect Juwan Howard and the Wolverines to be one of the top teams in the nation again next season. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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