The 2021-22 college basketball season has ended, and with that season comes one of the most silly annual traditions in sports, as analysts try to project what the Top 25 will be more than six months before the next season even starts.
We’re still unsure how much talent will return to the Michigan Wolverines next year, as Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate still have to decide if they want to pursue their NBA dreams or head back to Ann Arbor.
Nevertheless, Michigan is featured in the Way Too Early Top 25 by many national college basketball analysts. Here’s a recap of where the Wolverines rank here in April.
Stadium (Jeff Goodman): 12th
“Juwan Howard could have the best roster in the Big Ten as long as Dickinson, Houstan and Diabate all come back to Ann Arbor. The freshmen will be a year older, and Howard also brings in a recruiting class that features a trio of Top 100 kids.”
I took a crack at projecting Michigan’s rotation next season, as to echo what Goodman pointed out, if all three guys come back to go along with this talented class, the Wolverines all of a sudden have a deep roster full of talent.
“There was speculation during the season that Dickinson and Houstan might turn pro, but they both appear to be nowhere near the first round. If they come back, the Wolverines will be the favorite to win the Big Ten.”
Sportsbooks don’t have conference odds up just yet, but the Wolverines have the eighth-best odds to winning a national championship, coming in at +2200 on DraftKings.
“Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin are likely to take over for the departed Eli Brooks and DeVante’ Jones; Collins was excellent in the NCAA Tournament against Colorado State, and Bufkin is likely to hit more jumpers next year after his shot was off his freshman year. Freshman Tarris Reed gives the Wolverines another big center to give Dickinson more cover, while Juwan Howard’s son, Jett, could factor in on the wing quickly.”
“The big question that this ranking hinges on is the return of Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson is unlikely to get drafted should he go pro now, but his stock may never improve much because of his physical limitations. Should he return as this ranking projects, Juwan Howard can build around him as well as youngsters such as Frankie Collins, Moussa Diabate, Jett Howard and Dug McDaniel.”
I agree with Sweeney regarding Dickinson’s draft stock, and should he return, Michigan would have one of the best big men in the country and a likely nominee for John R. Wooden Award.
“It will be interesting to see how the Wolverines replace DeVante’ Jones and Eli Brooks; Frankie Collins showed flashes down the stretch, while Dug McDaniel is a tough, quick freshman entering the fold. Kobe Bufkin, a former McDonald’s All American, will also return on the perimeter.”
One of the underrated reasons why I wish Jones and/or Brooks were coming to back would be to provide a veteran leader that Dug McDaniel can learn from as he goes through the growing pains freshman guards usually go through.
“The Wolverines’ ranking is based on a returning core of Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, each of whom is a nice college player but nothing resembling a sure-fire first-round pick. For that reason, I’ll assume for now that they’re all back at Michigan, which could then be the favorite in the Big Ten.”
And now, for the highest ranking of them all...
“The injury to Devante Jones at the end of the season revealed how capable Frankie Collins is, which could give the Wolverines two talented point guards...The Wolverines could afford to lose one of the two frosh, but probably need to hang on to former All-American big man Hunter Dickinson. He could have a Kofi Cockburn-style year in 2022-23 if he takes another lap.”
I’m not sure exactly how much better Dickinson can get, but with Collins, Houstan and Diabate having a year of experience under their belt, it’s not crazy to think that the Wolverines could be one of the teams in college basketball next season.
Where would you rank the Wolverines to open the 2022-23? Let us know in the comments below.