Thursday, February 28, 2013
By Chantel Jennings, Tom VanHaaren & Michael Rothstein
Michigan's star point guard Trey Burke wants to know -- which way to a No. 1 seed?
Every Thursday, our writers sit down to discuss some Michigan sports. Today, they take a look at the looming NCAA Tournament, Ohio State’s recruiting class and what or whom the Wolverines offense needs to fear in this upcoming season.
1. With less than three weeks until Selection Sunday, what seed to you think the Wolverines eventually pick up? (Editor's note: The answers below were filed before Wednesday night's loss at Penn State)
Michael Rothstein: A No. 2. Michigan is going to end up waffling on the No. 1/2 line the rest of the season, but if it doesn't win the Big Ten regular season or Big Ten tournament, it is likely a No. 2. That isn't a bad spot to be in, though, because this season, with this much parity, it won't matter what the seed is. It is all about playing well in March.
Chantel Jennings: Michigan isn’t out of the running for a 1 seed, but I think they’d have to win out (which I don’t think will happen). So I’m with my colleagues on this one saying a 2 seed.
Tom VanHaaren: The Big Ten is down to the wire, but Michigan has a tough path to the finish line. I think it's likely they end up as a 2 seed once everything shakes out. Michigan plays Michigan State and Indiana at home, but they're still playing Michigan State and Indiana, so I think it's going to be difficult to close out strong.
2. If you could steal one 2013 signee from Ohio State's class and put him on Michigan's team, who would it be and why?
Rothstein:Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington). He was initially a Michigan commit, so if I were to "steal" a commit, I'd say him. Michigan picked up its running back late and doesn't have any tall wide receiver commits, so I'd go with the guy who once was a Wolverine commit in the first place, especially since he could have ended up playing receiver.
Jennings: Wide receiver Jalin Marshall (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown). Michigan picked up good players at receiver, but they didn’t get that guy with top-level speed who’s also rangy -- Marshall is that kind of a guy. Yes, he’s only 5-foot-11, but he has a 38-inch vertical and he runs a 4.66 in the 40 yard dash. He has a ton of potential.
VanHaaren: Cornerback Eli Apple (Vorhees, N.J./Eastern). He's a top-ranked defensive back, and Michigan was looking to add corners for depth. Apple has size and speed and would be an asset to the defense going forward.
3. Looking ahead to the 2013-14 football season, which game will be the toughest matchup offensively for the Wolverines?
Rothstein: This will be a wild-card selection, but I'm looking at Michigan's game at Northwestern. Yes, Michigan has played well in Evanston recently, and yes, when Michigan goes to Northwestern it usually becomes a neutral-site crowd leaning toward the Wolverines from time to time. But Northwestern could be positioned for its best season in the past decade. This is especially notable considering Michigan needed overtime (and a last-minute major play from Roy Roundtree) to beat Northwestern in Ann Arbor last season. Ohio State might be the tougher game from a talent perspective, but facing the Wildcats will be up there as well.
Jennings: Any early season games will be difficult for the Wolverines, as they really adjust to a brand new offensive line and a few new targets downfield and whatever kind of running game they put forth. So Notre Dame jumps out. I would like to imagine that Michigan will have a stronger sense of identity later in the season, but I still think -- as always -- the Ohio State game will be a struggle.
VanHaaren: Notre Dame lost a few key pieces on defense, but it also returns a lot of veterans. Michigan is going to have a young and inexperienced offensive line, while Notre Dame brings back Louis Nix, Prince Shembo, Ishaq Williams, Sheldon Day and Stephon Tuitt. That is going to be a problem for Michigan's offense.