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Our Wish List For Michigan Athletics In 2017

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Merry Christmas! In honor of the holidays, here’s what we’re hoping for in 2017.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Football

After wrapping up a win in the Orange Bowl, Jim Harbaugh starts building an exciting recruiting class for 2018 - while adding a few finishing touches to the 2017 additions. Najee Harris, perhaps?

  • A 45-14 win in the Orange Bowl.
  • 2017 4* offensive lineman Chuck Filiaga commits at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
  • 2017 5* running back Najee Harris flips from Alabama.
  • 2017 5* defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon re-commits to the Maize and Blue.
  • 2017 4* wideout Nico Collins gives Michigan four top receiver targets in one class.
  • Other top targets (Willie Gay, Tedarrell Slaton) get their grades in order and commit, as well.
  • The NFL Draft makes several current Wolverines very rich, and in the process gives U-M some good publicity.
  • Michigan gets a nice jump in 2018 with commitments from Taron Vincent, Mustapha Muhammad, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
  • I could ask for a whole bunch of wins in 2017, but I’ll keep restrained: one win to rule them all. The one team still standing in our way. Ohio State.

I know that Dorian Thompson-Robinson committing would cause a bit of consternation among some fans; but it’s likely that Harbaugh adds a dual-threat sooner or later if he’s recruiting them. And DTR is a great prospect.

Basketball

After a couple golden seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Michigan basketball started to lose its mojo the last two seasons, finishing ninth and then eighth in the Big Ten after a national championship appearance and a Big Ten title.

But, things could be turning around. That’s certainly the hope of Michigan fans as they wrap up a 10-3 non-conference slate, including 8-1 - with an average margin of 20.1 points - at home. They open against Iowa, in Iowa City, on January 1st.

  • Michigan’s bigs give the team hustle, rebounding, and more importantly, identity. D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner are doing a great job at that so far.
  • The freshmen show that Beilein has a deep rotation if he needs it. Xavier Simpson and Ibi Watson are averaging 8 minutes a game so far, but some fast growth and mature play could come in handy - and it would make fans even more exciting for next year and beyond.
  • The 2017 recruiting class wraps up nicely. Beilein already has a couple of four-stars - and three commits total - and he’s hunting for one more.
  • Lastly, Michigan completes a Big Ten tourney run and makes some noise in the Big Dance. That’s what it’s all about: just win, baby. A Final Four appearance would be magical.

Hockey

There’s a chance this is Red Berenson’s last season, and he deserves an endless amount of accolades for what he’s done after leading this program for 32 years. The former NHL player and coach oversaw the #1 scoring offense in college hockey last year, thanks to Kyle Connor, J.T. Compher, and Tyler Motte, but this year has been a little more rocky: a 7-8-1 record so far, including 1-3 in conference and only 5-4-1 at Yost Ice Arena.

  • Berenson and the team turn this season around. Defense will be key for that to happen.
  • Michigan shows they have a plan in place for the future, both regarding Red Berenson’s future and the ability to recruit more incoming talent.

Softball

After a 52-7 season last year, all Coach Hutch needs to do is keep the ball rolling. (Punny!) The team will be moving on from a great group of seniors - Sierra Romero, of course, leadoff hitter Sierra Lawrence, cleanup hitter Kelsey Susalla, and starting pitcher Sara Driesenga. A lot will ride on Tera Blanco’s success transitioning from a hitter to a starting pitcher.

  • Another dominant, and more confident, season from Megan Betsa.
  • Some young hitters step up to fill a pretty big void.
  • Kelly Christner, an All-American two years ago, gets her swing back.

Miscellaneous

We don’t usually pay attention to non-revenue sports, but here’s a quick refresher on a couple other teams worth mentioning:

  • Women’s basketball ends up ranked. They’re sitting at 11-3 at the moment, with the #7 scoring margin in the country. But they’re only receiving a handful of votes in the Coaches Poll, and are still a long, long way behind undisputed #1 UConn.
  • The baseball team has a successful 150th year. Coach Erik Bakich is heading into his fifth year, and his record has jumped from 59-56 the first two years to 75-46 the last two.
  • Michigan’s cheer team wins its fifth straight national title.

The lacrosse and soccer programs aren’t in the best shape, to be honest, but we’ll see how some of the individual sports - track and field, wrestling - fare. And, hats off to the field hockey team, which finished the year 12-8 after a 2-1 loss in the NCAA tournament last month but was actually ranked #10 in the country.

Happy holidays, and Go Blue.