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Michigan men’s basketball to open season against Georgia State

The Panthers will provide an unusually strong opening night opponent, finishing #126 in Kenpom last year.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

According to a tweet from Jon Rothstein, Michigan men’s basketball will welcome the Georgia State to Crisler Arena to open the 2020-21 season. The Wolverines and Panthers will play on the opening night of the college season, Tuesday November 10th. It will be the first ever meeting between the two schools.

The Georgia State matchup continues a trend of scheduling better teams for non-conference buy games. Last year, Michigan’s five buy games had an average previous-season Kenpom ranking of 247, and four of the teams they played had ended the previous season ranked No. 200 or worse. This year, Michigan has already scheduled two teams in the No. 100-200 range, and No. 126 Georgia State is the first Top 150 non-power conference team the Wolverines have scheduled since 2014 (EMU). Scheduled foe Southern Utah checked in at No. 161, and Oakland was No. 239.

Georgia State will be led by second-year head coach Rob Lanier. The Panthers earned fourth place and a bye to last year’s Sun Belt Quarterfinals, where they were eliminated. Prior to hiring Lanier they had made two consecutive NCAA Tournaments, and in 2015 upset No. 3 Baylor in the first round.

The Panthers won’t make it easy for Michigan, and return four of their top five scorers. One of those is rising senior Corey Allen, who is a graduate of Ypsilanti High School and spent his freshman and sophomore seasons as a Detroit Mercy Titan. Allen averaged 13.5 points for Georgia State last year. The Panthers may have another Michigander in their starting lineup, Detroit Jesuit product Jalen Thomas. Thomas was the No. 2 recruit in the state of Michigan in 2019, and led Georgia State with 40 blocks as a freshman.

Georgia State is the fourth known opponent for Michigan’s non-conference season. In addition to the previously mentioned buy games, Michigan will travel to Oregon. Michigan will also play two of Villanova, Baylor, and NC State as part of the Empire Classic. Michigan will host an ACC/B1G Challenge game, and may or may not travel to a Big East gym for the Gavitt Games. They’ll then round out the schedule with two or three more buy games. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue scheduling slightly tougher opponents, or if the schedule softens in late December.