#41 Michigan Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Michigan Wolverines
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #6 Big Ten
Michigan had some injury issues last season, but that did not stop them from reaching the NCAA Tournament. After beating Tulsa in the First Four, the Wolverines held a big lead against Notre Dame, but the Irish came back to win 70-63. That put an end to any hopes Michigan had to make a deep tournament run, but this is a program ready to compete in the Big Ten and get back to the NCAA Tournament. Zak Irvin will step into a leadership role and is the team’s top returning scorer at 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. The 6-6 senior was extremely inconsistent last year and shot just 29.8 percent from beyond the arc. He will need to boost that percentage and play better defense if he is to truly be the leader on the floor.
2015-16 Record: 23-13, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Beilein
Coach Record: 189-123 at Michigan, 665-398 overall
Who’s Out:
When healthy, Caris LeVert was the star of the Wolverines. Last season he averaged 16.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 15 games prior to his injury. The good news is Michigan played quite well without LeVert for most of last season. Michigan does return five players who started at least 25 games, but much of the depth is gone. Aubrey Dawkins and Kameron Chatman were a couple of big wings who provided quality minutes off of the bench. Dawkins was a very dangerous shooter and delivered a nice offensive spark. Spike Albrecht also missed most of last season with an injury. Ricky Doyle is the lone loss in the frontcourt. He started 11 games, but averaged just 3.8 points and 2.0 rebounds
Who’s In:
Xavier Simpson is the heir apparent at point guard and should step right into a backup role as a freshman and could play alongside returning starter Derrick Walton Jr. at times as well. Ibi Watson and walk-on Fred Wright-Jones are the other newcomers on the perimeter. Watson is a versatile and athletic wing who should make an impact on the defensive end. Brent Hibbitts, Austin Davis or Jon Teske will need to provide some depth in the frontcourt. Due to lack of other options, Davis or Teske will likely have to play quality minutes right away.
Who to Watch:
Derrick Walton Jr. could be the most important player on the team. Like Irvin, he underachieved a little bit last year, but the senior point guard needs to emerge as a leader on the floor and continue to keep the turnovers down. The Wolverines committed just 9.7 turnovers per game last season, ranking sixth in the country. Walton is a great shooter and can play off of the ball if Simpson is ready for major minutes at the point. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman is mostly known for his defensive skills, but he can score a bit too. After earning 25 starts as a sophomore, Abdur-Rahkman could be in for a big year.
Final Projection:
Duncan Robinson and Mark Donnal are back to man the frontcourt. Robinson is really a big 6-8 wing, but he will spend most of his time at the four spot again this year. He is a great outside shooter and connected on 45.0 percent of his team high 211 three-point attempts. He is one of the best shooters in the country and if he can get open looks, Robinson will put up some big numbers Donnal is not a flashy big man, but he played very well during Big Ten play, but will need to increase his efforts on the glass. Moritz Wagner had a promising freshman campaign and should be a solid backup to Donnal. If those two can score in the paint efficiently, help keep Michigan even on the glass and improve their defense, the Wolverines will be a contender in the Big Ten.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Derrick Walton Jr., Senior, Guard, 11.6 points per game
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Junior, Guard, 8.6 points per game
Zak Irvin, Senior, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Duncan Robinson, Junior, Forward, 11.2 points per game
Mark Donnal, Senior, Forward, 7.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.8 (153rd in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.4 (63, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (60, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.8 (253, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.5 (20, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.0 (38, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.8 (39, 4)
Rebound Margin: -1.1 (226, 10)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (73, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.7 (6, 1)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#70 Xavier Simpson
#141 Jon Teske