Michigan Basketball: 10 Bold Predictions for the Wolverines in 2012-13

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIApril 8, 2012

Michigan Basketball: 10 Bold Predictions for the Wolverines in 2012-13

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    The Michigan Wolverines have returned to prominence on the college basketball scene over the last two years.

    Coming off a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular season title, the Wolverines fell short in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, falling to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament, and Ohio in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

    Still, that doesn't take away the fact that the Wolverines went 24-10 this past season to build on their 21-14 record from a season to ago.

    Prior to that, the Wolverines were 46-53 over the previous three seasons.

    Before that, the Wolverines were decent, making runs in the NIT, but things are vastly different in Ann Arbor now, with next year's Wolverines likely to help the school to the glory days of the Fab Five, sans the monetary violations.

    Here are 10 bold predictions for the Wolverines next season.

10. Michigan Will Take Care of West Virginia

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    On Dec. 15, the Wolverines will meet West Virginia for the first time ever on a basketball court in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival, at the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center.

    Michigan should have no problem disposing of West Virginia.

    The Mountaineers will lose their two leading scorers in Daryl Bryant and Kevin Jones, and will be struggling early to find out who is going to lead the team.

    Michigan, on the other hand, will be losing Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, which will be hard at first to replace, but with No. 3 prospect Mitch McGarry, Glenn Robinson III, Nick Stauskas and Spike Albrecht coming in, the Wolverines look like they won't miss a beat.

    My expectation for this game will be the Wolverines controlling the inside, forcing the Mountaineers to have to play catchup for most of the game.

9. Mitch McGary Will Be Freshman of the Year

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    Mitch McGary is the No. 3-ranked player in high school and will make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor.

    Standing at 6'10", McGary can easily fit into the center position for the Wolverines, although I think he won't be officially be called a center with the Wolverines instead employing three forwards and two guards.

    With his strong inside presence, the pressure will be taken off the point guard, should Burke decide to leave within the next few days.

    McGary should average double figures in points and about eight or nine rebounds a game.

8. Wolverines Will Sweep Spartans

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    Although it's not much of a stretch or an upset to say that Michigan will sweep Michigan State, I think next year the Spartans are prime for the picking.

    The Spartans have a good group of guys coming in, with 5-star shooting guard Gary Harris leading the way.

    Still, I don't see the Spartans beating the Wolverines.

    I believe they will be stronger across the board.

    Speaking of sweep...

7. The Wolverines Will Sweep Ohio State as Well

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    The Buckeyes don't have any big-name recruits coming in, but will be losing Jared Sullinger.

    What Ohio State is going to have to depend on is much of their 2011 recruiting class, that didn't get as much average playing time as many thought they would.

    These Buckeyes will be on a little bit of a learning curve, and I believe they're going to be closer to the middle of the Big Ten, rather than at the top.

6. Leading from the Bench

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    Other than Matt Vogrich, the senior class is going to be sitting on the bench a lot during the season.

    Even though that's the case, the seniors are going to have to step up in practice and off the court to ensure the young ones are doing things the right way.

    It will be a real test for the entire team to see if they will let those seniors lead from the bench.

5. John Beilein Will Be Big Ten Coach of the Year

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    John Beilein will continue to build the Michigan program, and he'll finally get the recognition he deserves with being named the coach of the year for the conference next season.

    I'm expecting him to lead the Wolverines to 24 or 25 wins over the course of the season, and the conference will recognize him for that.

4. Will Finish Win Big Ten Regular Season

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    The Wolverines are strong and will be strong throughout the regular season.

    Indiana looks strong as well and it will be battle atop the standings all year.

    Both teams will be competitive in their two, possibly three, meetings, with a likely split during the regular season.

    If Cody Zeller doesn't return, then this result might be in question, but if he does, then the Hoosiers and Wolverines will battle down to the wire.

3. Will Finish Runner-Up in Big Ten Tournament

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    Unlike the regular season, the Wolverines will finish runner-up to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.

    Even without Zeller, Indiana would be strong at every position.

    In a tournament atmosphere, the Wolverines have the talent, but just won't be able to get it done in the end.

    However, I still expect them to come out with a No. 2 seed for the NCAA Tournament.

2. Will Make It to the Final Four

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    Michigan is going to take the next step for the program, making it all of the way to the Final Four.

    With the Wolverines likely being a No. 2 seed heading into the tournament, they'll make things look easy in the first two games, before getting challenged in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

    After winning the Sweet 16 game, the Wolverines will come close to losing in the regional final, but will prevail to earn a trip to Atlanta.

    However, in Atlanta, the Wolverines will fall in the national semifinal.

1. Most Will Be Back

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    Other than Mitch McGary and Trey Burke, the rest of the Wolverines will return for the next season.

    Only having one player that is one-and-done will continue to help Beilein build the Michigan program into being one of the best in the country.

    If this remains the case, then Michigan will be a serious national title contender in the 2013-14 season with four more strong high school players expected to come on campus.