This is a huge season for the Wolverines. Coming off an abysmal season last year (which is a similar situation to what the football team is dealing with) the team has some lofty goals they want to accomplish under West Virginia transplant (sound familiar?) John Beilein.
I might be crazy, but I really think this team can be good. Manny Harris is a star in the making and Beilein has had a year to build they way he wants to. Hopefully we can say the same thing next year for the football team.
Anyway, here's some matchups to watch for this season.
UCLA, Nov. 20th
This is the first of three to four games against big time opponents outside of the Big Ten. Right now the team is sitting with no losses (a far cry from last year). Even though it is early in the season, these young Wolverines will be confident coming into this battle Thursday. If they play inspired basketball and at least are in the game, they could score a possible moral victory to lead them into the gut of the season.
Maryland, Dec. 3rd
This is the ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup, one the Big Ten traditionally struggles with mightily. Maryland is good, but not one of the top tier in the conference, the reason they were matched up with Michigan. This could be a possible win which could lead to some confidence going into the Big Ten schedule.
Duke, Dec. 6th
This is the second of three huge games. These are the games where Harris can really show he is a star. If he struggles against the big dogs, he will be thought of as just another Big Ten star who can’t compete with anyone else.
However, if he plays good, he can really establish himself on a national level, which could in turn garner Michigan some respect.
By the way, Michigan has a chance to play Duke twice this year, which would be this coming Friday, depending on if they win the UCLA game and who wins the Duke/ Southern Illinois tilt.
Oakland, Dec 20th
This game will be played at the Palace at Auburn Hills against a good team from the Summit Conference, the preseason championship pick by most experts. Michigan has struggled against above average Mid-Majors recently, and if they can pull this one off, it should show they are progressing under coach Beilein.
Connecticut, Feb 7th
The last of the big ones. Connecticut has Hasheem Thabeet, the 7'3" big man in the middle. We will know what Michigan is by this time in the season, and it will either not matter at all or possibly be a huge resume booster. Big difference.
Michigan St. Feb 10th
The team’s only matchup with the Spartans this year. Purdue is expected to be the class of the Big Ten, but I look to this game as bigger for Michigan because of the tradition Michigan State has and the rivalry that has built up between this two inner-state foes. This will be a good one. Another possible late season resume booster.