College basketball kicks off next week, as Michigan fans are anticipating another successful season for a program that’s been incredibly consistent over the last decade.
Last year was a roller coaster ride for the Michigan Wolverines, who could never seem to put together two quality performances in a row and barely made the NCAA Tournament before making it to the Sweet Sixteen.
Seven of the top 10 scorers from last season are gone, and this team will be relying on a lot on All-American center Hunter Dickinson and a lot of young players who will be thrown into the fire.
Here are three bold predictions for the 2022-23 season.
Terrance Williams II won’t be a starter all year
Williams II is one of the few returning players who logged a decent amount of minutes last season, serving as the sixth man. In just over 15 minutes per game, he averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 51.7% from the field, 38.5% from three on 1.7 attempts per game, and 78.8% from the free throw line.
The prediction above is not necessarily a dig towards Williams II: he’s one of Michigan’s best defenders at the forward spot and will be a key piece who should be one of the five guys on the floor at the end of close games in most matchups.
That being said, the 4 is the biggest question mark for the Wolverines. I’d imagine Juwan Howard and the coaching staff will experiment with the starting lineup before conference play starts.
There’s tons of options at the 4 for the Wolverines. They could go small and play Jace Howard or Joey Baker there, or they could embrace their youth and play redshirt freshman Will Tschetter and Isaiah Barnes next to Dickinson in the front court. True freshman Youssef Khayat and Gregg Glenn also are options at the 4, but one or both guys could be in for a redshirt season.
Williams II has thrived in a role as a spark plug off the bench, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan move him back to that role by year’s end.
3 players will be featured on the All Big-Ten teams
While the Wolverines did lose a lot of key pieces from last season, they do have a lot of talent on this roster that could be honored at season’s end.
Barring major injury, Dickinson is a shoe-in to be on the First Team. Additionally, Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn should be Michigan’s best guard and may surprise some people before getting a spot on the Second or Third Team.
I don’t think it’s crazy to say one of other players will either earn a Third Team nod or an honorable mention. Kobe Bufkin should be one of the most improved players in the conference, Jett Howard will score a lot and may be one of the team’s best three-point shooters, and Dug McDaniel or Tarris Reed Jr. have the talent to turn the heads of voters.
While a casual college basketball fan may look at this as a team devoid of talent compared to last year, they should take home a lot of postseason accolades.
Speaking of accolades...
Hunter Dickinson will win Big Ten Player of the Year as the Wolverines finish 2nd in the conference
I wanted to pull the trigger guys. I really did. I wanted to be the homer and pick Michigan to win the conference for the second time in Howard’s tenure. But I just can’t do it. I don’t think this team has the depth to win the conference, and I bet either Indiana (led by Trayce Jackson-Davis) or Illinois (who have one of the deepest team in the conference with transfers Terrance Shannon Jr. and Matthew Mayer, win the conference.
That being said, I don’t think there is a player in the Big Ten better than Dickinson. He was incredibly dominant in the paint, flexed his passing ability out of double teams and even stepped out beyond the arc to cash more than a few threes.
Dickinson will be counted on to be a leader this season and if he can knock down threes more consistently and be Michigan’s defensive anchor, the conference’s Player of the Year award is his to lose.
At +2,000 odds, Dickinson has the best odds out of anyone in the Big Ten to win the National Player of the Year award, so picking him to be the conference’s most outstanding player isn’t super bold. That being said, Dickinson’s success directly correlates to success to the Wolverines, who I’m predicting to finish second in the Big Ten.