The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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52 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2016 2016-17 BASKETBALL PREVIEW to drop too far, though, bringing back a lineup headed by supremely talented Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon. The Hoosiers also feature four-star frosh De'Ron Davis and Curtis Jones, along with the confidence a title run brings to the veterans. The ESPN No-Longer-Way-Too- Early Top 25 had Indiana in the No. 12 spot. 5. Michigan — The Wolverines do bring back their entire starting lineup from an NCAA Tournament squad, and are determined to infuse a higher level of defense into the mix. They also added size in freshmen Austin Davis (6-10, 240) and Jon Teske (7-0, 245), along with talented point guard Xavier Simpson. Still, it won't be easy to climb past teams like Ohio State and Maryland into an NCAA-comfortable No. 5 spot in the Big Ten. Health (an un- known word around Crisler Center lately) and help from the rookies will go a long way in telling the tale. FIVE BEST PLAYERS 1. Thomas Bryant, Indiana (6‑10, sophomore, F) — Bryant could have jumped to the NBA following a more- than-solid rookie year (11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game), but chose to come back to Indiana as a sophomore. He shot 70.7 percent on two-point field goals, good for fourth best in the nation. He's one of the best rebound- ers in the league, and one who will raise Indiana's game considerably. 2. Melo Trimble, Maryland (6‑3, junior, G) — Trimble underachieved in the eyes of some last season, but he also struggled with a lingering hamstring injury. He still wound up averaging 14.8 points and 4.9 assists per game. The Big Ten's best point guard is adept at drawing fouls, and an assassin on the pick and roll. 3. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (6‑9, redshirt sophomore, F) — Happ made the Big Ten's All-Defensive squad a year ago, but he's certainly not on the court only to keep oth- ers from scoring. He averaged 12.4 points a game as a redshirt freshman, while hauling down 7.9 rebounds per contest. Happ will also benefit from a veteran lineup around him. 4. Peter Jok, Iowa (6‑6, senior, G) — Jok turned dead serious all season long for the Hawkeyes in 2015-16, averaging 16.1 points per game. A second-team All-Big Ten player, he was surrounded by a strong lineup, including Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, Mike Gessell and An- thony Clemmons. They're gone, and Jok will look to take a big step up. 5. Malcolm Hill, Illinois (6‑6, se‑ nior, F) — Hill filled it up for the Illini all season, posting the highest scoring average (18.6) of all returning Big Ten players. He also pulled down 6.6 rebounds per game and averaged 3.3 assists per contest. Illinois has a long way to go to climb into the top half of the conference, but Hill gives them a shot at respectability. FIVE TOUGHEST BIG TEN VENUES 1. Michigan State Home record last five years — 74-12 (.861 winning percentage); Michigan record at venue over last 10 games — 2-8 The combination of the Breslin Cen- ter amped up by a maniacal Tom Izzo rant is enough to make officials melt down and opposing teams wilt. It's a high-decibel mix of crazy and in- timidating, and that's times 10 when Michigan happens to roll into town. A Zack Novak level of toughness, with execution, is required in East Lansing. 2. Indiana Home record last five years — 84-11 (.884 winning percentage); Michigan record at venue over last 10 games — 1-9 The House of Horrors in Bloom- ington held the No. 1 spot back in the days of flying chairs and the whip- wielding bully in the big red sweater. It's slightly more civil these days, with Tom Crean, Jim Harbaugh's brother- in-law, on the sidelines. But Assem- bly Hall remains one of the tough- est places to win, its rows of Hoosier Hysteria rising high above the court. 3. Wisconsin Home record last five years — 76-16 (.826 winning percentage); Michigan record at venue over last 10 games — 1-9 The Kohl Center has become the new near-toughest place to play in the Big Ten, and was especially so under former head coach Bo Ryan. Non-conference losses to Western Illinois, Milwaukee and Marquette shook that reputation early last sea- son, and the Badgers dropped a pair of league games there after Ryan stepped down, but righted the ship and didn't lose another home game after Jan. 9. 4. Purdue Home record last five years — 68-20 (.773 winning percentage); Michigan record at venue over last 10 games — 3-7 Mackey Arena is cozy and crazy on game nights. Purdue doesn't have much going on during the football season, and when the winter begins to settle in, the Boilermakers fans be- gin getting riled up. There's an inten- sity and expectation brewing around Purdue basketball that draws them in early and cranks up the volume. 5. Maryland Home record last five years — 77-13 (.856 winning percentage); Michigan record at venue since Maryland joined Big Ten — 0-2 One of the newest Big Ten members features one of the bigger conference arenas, the Xfinity Center packing in nearly 18,000. Terps fans also know their basketball and aren't afraid to let you know about it. The place is rock- ing on game days and can be deafen- ing when the home team is on a roll. ❏ MOST RECENT NCAA FINAL FOUR APPEARANCE Wisconsin 2015 Michigan State 2015 Michigan 2013 Ohio State 2012 Illinois 2005 Indiana 2002 Maryland 2002 Minnesota 1997 Purdue 1980 Iowa 1980 Rutgers 1976 Penn State 1954 Nebraska None Northwestern None Indiana 39 Ohio State 31 Michigan State 30 Illinois 30 Purdue 28 Michigan 26 Maryland 26 Iowa 25 Wisconsin 22 Minnesota 12 Penn State 9 Nebraska 7 Rutgers 6 Northwestern 0 NCAA TOURNAMENT BIDS

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