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Preseason magazines project Michigan basketball to win Big Ten again

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Athlon’s Sports and Lindy’s Sports are high on the Wolverines in 2021-22.

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

College hoops may still be two months away, but preseason magazines are here. Last week, Athlon Sports and Lindy’s Sports each came out with their annual preseason editions, including team rankings, all-conference team projections, individual awards, national player rankings and NCAA Tournament picks.

The one common denominator between Athlon Sports and Lindy’s Sports? Both publications picked Juwan Howard and the Michigan basketball team to repeat as Big Ten champions. Lindy’s Sports ranks the Wolverines as the No. 3 team in college basketball, while Michigan checks in at No. 5 on the Athlon Sports rankings.

In terms of national player rankings, Wolverines’ center Hunter Dickinson earned praise from each publication. The All-American ranked in the top 20 on both lists, coming in at No. 6 on Lindy’s Sports and No. 17 on Athlon Sports. Dickinson, the returning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, averaged 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds last season while tying Trey Burke for the program’s most Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards in a single season.

“It’s been a joy to coach (Dickinson),” Howard said last season. “It’s also been a joy to learn from him, as well. Because he has a high basketball IQ, love for the game (and is) a student of the game. … If he ever wanted to come and coach, he can coach. The relationship has been special, not just when it comes to X's and Os, but the relationship has been great, just us being able to develop that bond as a family. It’s a coach-player relationship, but it runs deeper than that.”

Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina graduate transfer guard DeVante’ Jones and five-star freshman wing Caleb Houstan each cracked the top 55 on both lists as well. Jones transferred to Michigan after averaging 19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists en route to Sun Belt Player of the Year honors last season, while Houstan established himself as one of the nation’s top prep players during his time at Montverde Academy. He was originally a class of 2022 recruit but reclassified last year.

Lindy’s Sports also tabbed Houstan the favorite for Big Ten Newcomer of the Year, while Dickinson appeared on the preseason All-Big Ten first team. Houstan, meanwhile, made the Lindy’s Sports preseason All-Big Ten second team. Dickinson and Houstan were each preseason All-Big Ten second-team selections at Athlon Sports.

Neither publication predicted Dickinson to be the Big Ten Player of the Year despite being one of the only returning All-Americans in the conference. Athlon Sports chose Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell, while Lindy’s Sports went with Illinois center Kofi Cockburn.

Michigan figures to begin the season at the center of the Big Ten title conversation, with the Buckeyes and Purdue also in the mix. There’s a lot to like about each of the three teams, but for now, preseason magazines are giving the Wolverines the edge.