Coming off a near Cinderella-like run in last year’s tournament, the Wolverines look to impact the Big Ten this year with a promising group of players. Mo Wagner, Duncan Robinson, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman all return as experienced upperclassmen. Wagner has pro-level skills — as he possesses a feathery touch around the basket and deep range from the perimeter. Robinson and Abdur-Rahkman are important role players that can do a little bit of everything.
The losses of Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin and D.J. Wilson were felt heavily early on, but head coach John Beilein has counted on Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews to alleviate the pain. Matthews has acquainted himself early on, emerging as the team’s go-to scorer and primary playmaker. Despite some roster changes, Michigan’s formula remains the same as last year’s squad: Deadly shooting spliced with opportunistic defense.
Any squad that can still compete with only three players on the floor deserves some recognition. Head coach Avery Johnson saw his entire bench ejected in a November tilt against Minnesota. One of his remaining five players fouled out, and another was ruled out due to injury. Led by offensive dynamo Collin Sexton, the Tide fought hard and actually outscored the Gophers in the second half.
Contrary to the school’s illustrious football program, Alabama’s basketball team prides itself on the offensive end. They score with efficiency, and Sexton becomes a nightmare to defend one-on-one when the rest of his teammates are engaged. He’s already one of the most exciting individual players in the nation, and can effectively take over a game in the blink of an eye.
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