For most of the 2018-19 college basketball season, Michigan was ranked inside the top 10. The Wolverines have established themselves as one of the better programs in the country thanks to their recent success, and it appears that various experts from around the country are taking notice of the team as we begin to look ahead to next season.
Michigan is ranked in the top 10 in all ten of the most recent way-too-early top 25 rankings from well known national media outlets, and is ranked in the top four in eight of them.
Here is a chart that shows where the Wolverines fall in eight of the polls. Sports Illustrated’s projections aren’t included in the chart, but they have Michigan ranked No. 4, with No. 1 Michigan State, No. 2 Kentucky and No. 3 Virginia ahead of it. Seth Davis’ projections for The Athletic aren’t included either, but he has Michigan No. 2, behind only MSU.
Want to know the perception that the national media has of your basketball program?— Double BB (@BBsBigHouse1) April 9, 2019
Here’s a composite of several Way-Too-Early Top 25 projections: pic.twitter.com/DI80REYf2i
Watch Stadium (10th) and ESPN (7th) are the only two sites that have Michigan lower than fourth. The Athletic, NBC and CBS have Michigan ranked No. 2, behind No. 1 Michigan State. For a state that has already had several high profile matchups between the two schools, seeing MSU and U-M atop the rankings could set up even bigger meetings next year.
Now, these rankings are all looking too far ahead by design, but it does show how high the ceiling is for Michigan basketball in 2020. Where exactly Michigan will end up ranked will have a lot to do with how many players the team loses to the NBA. Charles Matthews is expected to make the jump, but questions remain when it comes to Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis. If both players return, the Wolverines would be left with one of the most talented and experienced rosters in all of college basketball — and as we saw this postseason, sometimes experience is more valuable than star talent.
Here’s what Davis had to say about the Wolverines:
“The Wolverines snuck up on everyone this year after losing three starters from their NCAA runner-up team. That won’t be the case next season, provided Brazdeikis and Poole don’t turn pro. There are plenty of rumblings they are itching to give it a try, even though neither is projected to be a first-round pick. Matthews technically has another year of eligibility remaining, but the widespread expectation is that he is leaving. The school honored him on Senior Day. There are a number of really good players who didn’t get a ton of minutes this season, and John Beilein is masterly at player development. I’m also wondering if assistant coach Luke Yaklich, who has remade this program’s culture with his ability to teach defense, will be hired away as a head coach.”
SI’s Jeremy Woo praised Beilein as well:
“Michigan will lose Charles Matthews to the NBA, and Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis could potentially be out the door as well. Getting either of the latter two back would be huge, but this is a well-oiled program that will find ways to keep things rolling. At minimum, Michigan will bring back Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers (who will be a breakout candidate in a starting role). Top recruit Jalen Wilson could also make an early impact. There could be some holes on the wing, but at this point, you just kind of assume John Beilein is going to figure things out.”
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Michigan (and Michigan State) slotted as No. 1 seeds in his early projections for next season.
To add to it all, Michigan has the the fifth best odds to win the 2020 national championship at 12-1, according to BetOnline.ag. U-M trails only Kentucky (5-1), Duke (6-1), Virginia (13-2) and Michigan State (8-1).