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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
WolverineNation Mailbag

By Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Welcome to March and with it, one of the greatest tournaments and spectacles in sport, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

While there aren’t questions -- yet -- in this week’s mailbag about Michigan’s NCAA future, we discuss basketball and a little bit of college football recruiting in this week’s edition.

Have questions for next week’s Mailbag? Send them to jenningsespn@espn.com or @chanteljennings on Twitter.

On to your questions.

@BrianVanEck asks: With Caris LeVert's extended minutes [Sunday], who is Michigan’s sixth man this year going forward?

Mitch McGary
Mitch McGary should get consideration as the Big Ten's best sixth man.
Brian, the sixth man won’t change. It’ll still be Mitch McGary, just as it has been for most of the season. I’d actually be surprised if he wasn’t in contention for the league’s sixth man of the year award. As far as the first non-big off the bench, it all depends on whether or not Nik Stauskas can play or not. If Stauskas can play, it is probably still LeVert, but with potentially more minutes. If Stauskas isn’t completely healthy, it probably becomes either him or maybe Matt Vogrich. The other option for Michigan if Stauskas is unable to play as much is to play two big men more often between McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford.

Mike from Frederick, Md. asks: Much has been made about obtaining a top-10 recruiting class, but how many times has this success actually translated to success on the field and, of course, a national title?

There is a definite correlation. Consider Alabama, which has won back-to-back national championships and three under Nick Saban. It has had one of the top three recruiting classes every year since 2008, and considering the Crimson Tide have dominated the national championships over the past half-decade, that’s a good place to start. But look at other top teams. LSU is in the national title race almost every year. It has been among the top 15 recruiting classes every year since 2006 and in the top 10 in all but two of those seasons. Of course, this doesn’t always correlate since Texas has routinely been in the top 5-10 of recruiting classes, but the Longhorns have struggled the past couple of seasons. But Texas could be on the upswing. The Longhorns have been in the top 5 the past three seasons, which means that those recruits are upperclassmen now. It isn’t a perfect predictor, as so much can happen when players get to campus, but when looking at top teams and national title contenders, it is a good place to start.

J.B. from Pittsburgh asks: Do you think that John Beilein and his staff will emphasize that good things happen when Michigan takes the ball to the basket instead of settling for threes after beating MSU without making a three? 

Depends on the matchups, I think. I highly doubt you’ll see Michigan go through a game again without making a 3-pointer -- and if you do, it will likely end with a Wolverines loss. But Michigan has always been a more dangerous team when it could hit cutters off the ball screen or screen well enough for Trey Burke (or Darius Morris, for that matter) to come off the screen and get in the lane to either drive and dish or finish at the basket. I think those actions -- to use Beilein’s term -- have always been in his offense but he hasn’t had multiple players who could do that before this season. Now he has a bunch of slashers who can shoot instead of shooters who could sometimes slash. That’s a big difference.