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Over-ra-ted (Clap, Clap, ClapClapClap)

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Links today, compositions tomorrow:
- Already it's starting. SI.com thinks Michigan will be the ninth-best team in the country by August while ESPN.com thinks that it will be the eleventh. I think that everyone needs to check the forecast: Michigan is in trouble. Period.

As Slate's Jonathan Chait pointed out while eviscerating ESPN's coverage enshrinement of USC, "Teams with great offenses and shaky defenses tend to be overrated." And...cue Stewart Mandel:

The Wolverines were ranked way too high going into this season; next year, they'll likely be rated too low. QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart and WRs Steve Breaston and Mario Manningham all return for a squad that wasn't nearly as bad as its 7-5 record.
That's great, Stewart. You're right: UM will, indeed, have fantastic skill-position talent again. But it had that this year. What it really needs is great offensive-line and defensive play. And last time I checked, neither of those had been seen in Ann Arbor in recent years. It would also be nice if junior-to-be Chad Henne would, like, work hard this summer.

As for ESPN's Pat Forde, well, he kind of falls for it also:

If Mike Hart stays healthy and Chad Henne continues to progress, the Wolverines will still score a lot of points. And the defense will have a lot of experience at linebacker and in the secondary.
Notice, again, the focus on the skill positions. But also, what does "if...Chad Henne continues to progress" mean? This year was progress? And while we're asking questions, does Forde really expect us to believe that between now and the 2006 opening kick off--during a month of spring practice and a month of August practice--that experienced linebacker corps is going to significantly improve? That's lazy punditry.

In Forde's defense, though, he does say a lot while saying a little later on. Why might Michigan not be the eleventh-best team? Sayeth Pat: "When was the last time this program lived up to expectations?" Lloyd Carr, answers?

- My attitude usually falls somewhere between "stop talking," "stop grinning like an idiot," and "not a bad point" regarding Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis, but he got this one right today:

"It's hard to watch Michigan sometimes because the Wolverines have no true point guard. Dion Harris and Daniel Horton are both combo guards, and it seems most of Michigan's halfcourt offense comes from one-on-one moves."
Shh, Seth, stop blaspheming. Didn't you hear? Tommy Amaker is a great coach. I mean, he went to Duke.

Of course, no one is helped by the fact that Michigan's starting center looks like Frederic Weis trying to score against Hakeem Olajuwon when UM plays most of the major-conference teams.