Coach John Beilein and his Michigan basketball team will have their hands full once again with another gauntlet of a schedule. The Wolverines start the year off with the Legends Classic. Possible matches with Villanova or VCU on November 25th could prove troublesome early in the year.
Michigan’s first big challenge comes December 2nd when they face ACC power Syracuse and Jim Boeheim. Syracuse has a new look this season with an incredibly tough defense and lack of shooting threats. This could be a battle of shooting powerhouses with zone defenses, but this year Michigan has the advantage around the perimeter.
The matchup against preseason number one Arizona on the road on December 13th could prove the biggest test to the Wolverines. Rondae Hollis- Jefferson could give Coach Beilein a headache during this matchup. Even with the loss of Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson, Arizona is still projected to be the team to beat this season.
A week following the showdown with the Wildcats, a matchup against Larry Brown and SMU on December 2oth at home is next. The Wolverines have a difficult out of conference list of opponents to prepare for the immensely tough Big 10. Coach Beilein has proven to give his team adequate competition before the start of conference play to get extra preparation.
The Wolverines should have a successful first four games of Big 10 play, but then comes a meeting in Columbus on January 13th against Thad Matta and the Buckeyes. Ohio State may have lost senior guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., but a dominant backcourt could rise this season in Shannon Scott and D’Angelo Russel. Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert could have their hands full with this Buckeye backcourt.
The Wolverines are set to play the Wisconsin Badgers at home on January 24th. The Badgers enter this season as a returning final four team and as favorites to take the Big 10 title. The question of Michigan’s lack of experience inside should be answered during this game. We will find out if Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle can handle the overwhelming strength and size of the Badgers front court.
What every Michigan fan and student waits for every season, a matchup against their in-state rival the Michigan State Spartans. As always there are two meetings between these teams, but the first happens to be in East Lansing on February 1st. The second meeting between in state powerhouses is February 17th at home. Michigan State is coming off of an elite eight appearance, but lost three stars in Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, and Keith Appling to the NBA. But, MSU will still remain tough with the return of Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine and Brandon Dawson. Both games against the Spartans will present a tough test for the Wolverines.
The Big 10 will once again be tough top to bottom. Michigan has a game at home on February 5th against Iowa on who had a very successful season last year, and a game in Bloomington on February 8th against Indiana which is usually a difficult place for a Big 10 victory. Michigan will face Ohio State once again at home on February 22nd, which will most likely be an important game in the Big 10 title race.
Michigan’s final test before the Big 10 tournament will be long time ACC power and new addition to the Big 10 Maryland on the road on February 28th.
The Wolverines and Coach Beilein have a competitive year ahead of them with a tough out of conference schedule and even tougher Big 10 schedule. But, with the talent and potential the Wolverines possess we could see another late run into March and possibly April.