The Michigan Wolverines return to action after falling short in last year’s NCAA Championship duel with the Louisville Cardinals, looking to fill the voids of NBA-bound Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. John Bellein’s crew faces its usual tough opposition in the Big Ten Conference, while attracting its share of promising new recruits. How will these affect your NCAA picks?
Wolverines forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III opted to remain in Ann Arbor following last year’s stellar run in the “Big Dance.” McGary led his squad in boards (6.3 RPG) and field shooting (59.8 percent), while Robinson notched double figures in five of his six “March Madness” affairs to finish the year with 11 PPG.
The duo is re-joined by sophomore Nik Stauskas, who shot 44 percent from three-point land while connecting at an 85.1 percent clip from the foul line. Stauskas’ mate Spike Albrecht came off the bench for a season-high 17 points against Louisville, reaching Final Four All-Tournament Team honors.
Irvin, Walton lead additions
Michigan’s Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton make up the squad’s top two recruits, filling forward and guard roles, respectively. Irvin achieved the state of Indiana’s “Mr. Basketball” honors as part of his senior-year action at Hamilton Southeastern High School. Walton has a local following as a Detroit native from his years at Chandler Park Academy, hoping to be a part of the Wolverines’ starting five.
Mark Donnal rounds out the squad’s new additions, along with walk-on’s Cole McConnell and Andrew Dakich. Donnal heads north from nearby Monclova, OH, looking to pay some fast dividends for Michigan after averaging double figures in points and boards for Anthony Wayne High School.
Wolverines face early tests
Michigan is presently listed at 30/1 sports odds at William Hill to capture this year’s “March Madness” crown, behind Big Ten Conference rivals Michigan State (13/1) and Ohio State (16/1). McGary and Co. are considered even bigger long shots at TheGreek.com, with a price of 35/1 on their NCAA basketball odds.
November’s early-season action sends the Wolverines east for the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, opening against Long Beach State and then facing either Florida State or Virginia Commonwealth University. December’s non-conference schedule includes a road stop against the Duke Blue Devils, while facing the Stanford Cardinal in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.
Michigan logged a 19-17-1 spread record in its 37 ‘board’ battles last year, while the ‘Over’ cashed at 7-3 in the span’s 10 true road spots. The squad’s octane should stay high with Stauskas and Albrecht returning, with its new recruits adding some upfront impact.
Look for the Wolverines to be in for their share of close contests in Big Ten country, while worth a look at an early NCAAB futures odds ticket.
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