It all started with an innocent 55-52 early season win over UCLA in Madison Square Garden for Michigan last year.
Michigan coach John Beilien scheduled and beat UCLA and Duke early in the season last year, which propelled the Wolverines to an NCAA Tournament Berth.
But looking closer at last season, Michigan had to come from behind at Minnesota just to finish .500 in the Big Ten, albeit a very good conference. Michigan seemed to play down (and up) to opponents, and struggled badly on the road for much of the season.
This year, talent takes a step up, while leadership may take a step down. C.J. Lee and David Merritt were the unquestioned leaders of the team last year, and both are now gone.
Kelvin Grady left the basketball program in the off-season, creating a hole at the point guard spot, even with Darius Morris, a high-profile recruit, coming in. If he struggles early on, Stu Douglass or possibly even Manny Harris will have to man the spot, despite that taking some of Harris's offense away.
Some have already begun comparing shooting guard recruit Matt Vogrich to former Duke star J.J. Redick, so one should have a good idea about how he plays.
Once he returns from injury, Jordan Morgan should help in the paint, while sharp-shooting big man Blake Mclimas has Michigan fans dreaming about Kevin Pittsnogle, a former West Virginia sharp-shooting big man under Beilien, only in a Michigan uniform.
With added talent and another year for Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims, Michigan fans should be excited about this team, especially with the shooting ability that has been added to this team.
Beilien should have many options, with Zack Novak, Douglass, Zack Gibson, and Anthony Wright on the roster. Add those four to the "Detroit Duo" and the quartet of Freshman, and another Tournament appearance are realistic expectations.
Chris Schei is the author of "The Magical Season of the Maize and Blue," available at Lulu.com.