- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan reached its first national championship game in two decades on Monday night and while losing to Louisville, one thing became fairly clear in the first hours of the Wolverines’ postseason.
There is a chance this was not a one-off thing at all.
Depending who leaves and who returns to Michigan’s roster, it could be in a similar position next season. But that is over a summer away. There’s still a football season -- and a spring game Saturday -- to go.
Questions about the 2013 football season and 2013-14 basketball season dominate this week’s Mailbag. Have questions for next week? Get them to @chanteljennings or email@example.com.
@bradmwolfe from Twitter asks Can we get some early predictions for 2013 football? Record? Big Ten Championship game? Bowl game?
Still a long way to go before that and with Michigan down to only one healthy quarterback with even one snap of game experience, everything becomes much more dicey for the Wolverines. I’ll make these predictions on the premise Devin Gardner stays healthy. If he doesn’t, this is all for naught. There’s a good chance Michigan will go 9-3 this season. That may not sound super promising, but the Wolverines have some of their toughest opponents (Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State) at home. Traveling to Northwestern and Michigan State will be difficult and there’s still the question of the revamped offensive line, but 9-3 is what I’m going with as of now. Is that good enough to get Michigan into the Big Ten title game? Probably, if one of those losses is to Notre Dame, which I suspect it will be. As far as bowl game, Michigan could settle in well at the Capital One Bowl after losing to Ohio State in back-to-back weeks. Michigan fans might not like it, but the margin for error is very, very small with the Wolverines this season due to injuries.
He’ll get 15-18 minutes a game next year. Might even start early on if Michigan wants to ease Derrick Walton Jr. into the lineup. As great as Albrecht played in the first half of Monday’s national championship game, Walton Jr. is an elite recruit and, depending who is returning, could be counted on to just be a facilitator next season and not have to worry about a scoring load. What you could see from Michigan is more two-guard tandem sets, more like what John Beilein used to run at his many prior stops and what the Wolverines did occasionally this season. He would have the two point guards to do it.
@USAFGolfer from Twitter asks: With the season over, it’s time to look to the future. Who will be the starting five game one next season?
Tough question because there are still a bunch of variables out there which need to be answered. But right now, with this being totally speculative, the starting five I would envision would be Walton Jr. at the point, Nik Stauskas at the off-guard, Zak Irvin on the wing, Glenn Robinson III at the four and...Mitch McGary at the five with Albrecht, Caris LeVert, Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan all getting good time off the bench. The first three starters are all but guaranteed to be in Ann Arbor. The last two are dicey -- and here’s why I think they could return.
McGary could be a Top 5 pick if he returns and puts together a full season like he did in the NCAA tournament. Robinson III also has enough room to grow that a solid second season could mean a sure lottery selection. Plus, the two of them genuinely enjoy playing together. There is a good chance one or both leaves for the NBA, but at this point there seems to be some chance they both return. So that’s what I’m going with -- and that answer could change three more times before the end of the month.