Sitting on press row for Michigan basketball subjects one to the occasional conversation that forces you to put your money where your mouth is. After all, you’re in a room full of guys who think they know what they’re talking about. Not just think it, they’re sure of it.
Last year, Rob and I were nearly laughed off of press row when we predicted Michigan would win 18 and 17 games, respectively. Most of our other cohorts had them in the 11-13 range. Michigan finished the pre-NCAA tournament portion of their schedule (which is all we pick) 20-13. Here is the link to last season’s game-by-game prediction article in case your skepticism requires validation.
As is our annual tradition, we have once again launched ourselves headfirst into the new schedule and come up with our predictions.
What we see is a relatively favorable schedule. Aside from the loaded docket in the Maui Invitational and a tough matchup at Virginia in the B1G/ACC Challenge, the non-conference slate is about as easy as it gets.
Michigan should head into conference play with a lofty record that could already include 10 wins. The early conference play doesn’t provide cause for alarm either as they get rolling with Penn State and Minnesota at home and Indiana on the road before a solid Wisconsin team pays a visit. Michigan will not play at the Kohl Center this year, which is a huge bonus.
The B1G is never easy, and with Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois, and the aforementioned Badgers always lurking, this should be another season full of outstanding matchups.
So here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for, our projected records for the 2011-12 Michigan Wolverines:
Rob: 29-5 (15-3)
Joe: 26-8 (14-4)
Here is the game-by-game breakdown:
|Opponent||Joe’s Pick||Rob’s Pick||Notes|
|Ferris State||Win||Win||Michigan welcomes their in-state friends from the north into town for an early season beat down. Let’s just hope they don’t go all Concordia… – Joe White|
|Towson||Win||Win||6 of the top 7 scorers on the Tigers’ roster are not back from 2011-12, and with them, they were 0-18 in conference play last year. Ouch. – Joe White|
|Western Illinois||Win||Win||The Fighting Leathernecks, is that a great nickname or what, are led by senior guard Ceola Clark III and play in the Summit League. Michigan will overwhelm them with their superior talent and balanced attack. – Rob White|
|Maui Invitational||1 Win||2 Wins||Michigan draws #9 Memphis in their first game and either Duke or Tennessee in the 2nd. If they can come home with 2 wins it would be a big success, 1 win as Joe is predicting would be disappointing. – Rob White|
|Virginia||Win||Win||After a brutal 3 day schedule in Maui, Michigan will be more than ready for a trip to Virginia. The Wahoos will be tough, but Michigan gets their second straight road victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge – Rob White|
|Iowa State||Win||Win||“The Mayor” Fred Hoiberg is assembling some talent in Ames including former Big 10’ers Chris Allen (MSU) and Royce White (Minnesota). They’re not there yet though. – Joe White|
|Oakland||Win||Win||Wolverine transfer Laval-Lucas Perry gets a crack at his former team. He, Reggie Hamilton, and Travis Bader can fill it up, but so can Michigan. – Joe White|
|UAPB||Win||Win||This marks the 2nd time in 3 years that the Golden Lions have paid visit to Ann Arbor. Arkansas Pine-Bluff plays 11 of their first 12 games on the road and won’t win many of them, including this one. – Joe White|
|Alabama A&M||Win||Win||The Bulldogs are led by first year coach Willie Hayes and a trip to Michigan will be their toughest test of the season. Irrelevant factoid: I once had a buddy who played football for Alabama A&M back in the early 90s. – Rob White|
|Bradley||Win||Win||Aside from Virginia and the Maui Invitational, Michigan has an easy non-conference schedule. They’ll conclude it fine fashion here. – Joe White|
|Penn State||Win||Win||Talor Battle is finally graduated and with that PSU loses their best chance at springing upsets. Michigan rolls in their B1G opener. – Rob White|
|Minnesota||Win||Win||Michigan hasn’t looked back since dropping a rugged home loss to the Gophers last year. They won’t lose at home to these guys this time around. – Joe White|
|at Indiana||Win||Win||Stu Douglass and Zack Novak haven’t won in their home state since they were Freshmen. It’s time to get one back. – Joe White|
|Wisconsin||Win||Win||Michigan gets payback for last season’s gut wrenching loss, when Josh Gasser banked in a game winning three at the buzzer. – Rob White|
|Northwestern||Win||Win||Northwestern is going to be tough, but the loss of Michael Thompson will hurt, especially early in the season. Michigan cruises in this one. – Rob White|
|at Iowa||Win||Win||Winning on the road in the Big Ten is never easy and Iowa should being showing signs of life this year. However, the Wolverines will be rolling when they get to this game and that momentum will carry over to a solid road win. – Rob White|
|Michigan State||Win||Win||MSU will have to come to terms with the fact that Michigan isn’t only more talented, they’re just better. 3 wins in a row and counting… – Joe White|
|at Arkansas||Loss||Win||A tough road trip right in the middle of the B1G season. Arkansas will be ill prepared for Michigan’s precise style of play. – Rob White|
|at Purdue||Loss||Loss||With Robbie Hummel back and Lewis Jackson pushing the tempo, Purdue will be awfully tough to beat at home. – Joe White|
|at Ohio State||Loss||Loss||Michigan will wrap up their toughest 3-game stretch since the Maui Invitational and come away licking their wounds. – Joe White|
|Indiana||Win||Win||Indiana will be vastly improved this year and they will win some games that they aren’t supposed to. This won’t be one of them. – Rob White|
|at Michigan State||Win||Loss||Joe has Michigan sweeping the Spartans for the second straight year. I think they drop this one, but knock MSU out of the Big Ten Tournament. – Rob White|
|at Nebraska||Win||Win||Michigan playing in Lincoln could pose problems but don’t expect it to be enough to trip up the Wolverines. – Joe White|
|Illinois||Win||Win||Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale gave the Wolverines’ fits. They’ve finally run out of eligibility and now Michigan will run all over the Illini. – Joe White|
|Ohio State||Loss||Win||In 3 games last year Michigan lost to OSU by 4 points at home, 9 at Columbus and 7 at the BTT. They’ll break through this year and topple the Buckeyes. – Rob White|
|at Northwestern||Loss||Win||Michigan has lost by 14 and 15 the last 2 years in Evanston. John Shurna will lead the charge for the ‘cats. – Joe White|
|Purdue||Win||Win||Michigan is going to be tough to beat at home this year. This will be a big win as they start zeroing in on the postseason. – Rob White|
|at Illinois||Win||Win||Like Joe mentioned earlier, Illinois used to have the upper hand on personnel with their bigs. That is no longer the case and Michigan plays really well late in the season. – Rob White|
|at Penn State||Win||Win||Michigan won’t need a big comeback this time around. After dusting the Nittany Lions, all attention will turn to the B1G tourney. – Joe White|
|Big Ten Tourney||2 Wins||2 Wins||Joe and I both have Michigan with a 1st round bye. We also agree that they’ll get two wins in Indy before getting knocked out in the finals. -Rob White|