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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
WolverineNation Mailbag: On KU, RBs

By Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan is in its first Sweet 16 since 1994. Football spring practice is nearing its halfway point and that means a ton of questions in this week’s WolverineNation mailbag.

Have questions for next week? Send them to Chantel at @chanteljennings or Now, on to this week’s questions.

SEnferadi37 from The Den asks: I will preface this comment with the fact that I know very little about college basketball and Kansas in particular. What I do know, from reading this forum and ESPN articles, is that Michigan struggles with big teams. Outside of Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey, what does Michigan need to plan for in order to beat Kansas? I know they took the two-point-guard approach against VCU. Is that something they would try again, or does that not work well against KU? Also, is that performance (or something similar) out of Mitch McGary something we can expect regularly?

Mitch McGary
Mitch McGary will have to continue to play well to help contain Jeff Withey and the Kansas Jayhawks.
All of your questions are kind of related. For Michigan to beat Kansas, it will need a similar performance out of McGary as it received last weekend. The Wolverines are at their best -- and they showed that -- when they can have a somewhat reliable presence inside to go with their slashers (Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr.), shooters (Nik Stauskas and Hardaway Jr.) and their star point guard, Trey Burke. Michigan has one of the most talented teams in the tournament when those five guys are all playing well. Michigan has played Burke and Spike Albrecht together for a few minutes here and there at varying points in the season and I expect that will continue as the Wolverines go deeper into the tournament, especially since Albrecht displayed confidence last weekend. To win, Michigan needs to play one of its best games of the season Friday night.

SU 24 from The Den asks: Who is our starting RB to open the season...Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Derrick Green, Drake Johnson, or even Dennis Norfleet?

If healthy, I’d go with Toussaint and here’s why. Michigan will still have inexperience in the middle of the offensive line and if it can have an experienced running back who can potentially find smaller holes or holes that close quicker with an inexperienced group, it should take that early on. If Green -- or Deveon Smith for that matter -- come in as the most talented guy, one or both could see a good amount of time as well. But if he’s healthy, Toussaint would get the nod early on in my opinion. It’s a battle that won’t even really begin until August, though.

CRhoades45 from The Den asks: Do you think that Coach (John) Beilein’s 'system' is capable of bringing a national championship to Michigan?

Short answer: Yes. Beilein’s “system” has actually changed a decent amount over the years -- even during his time at Michigan. When he arrived here, he ran a lot of his offense through wing players and the Wolverines used a lot of the 1-3-1 zone, which was a patent-pending kind of deal, he used it so much at other stops. Yet over the past three seasons, Michigan has played much more man defense than zone and also flipped the focal point of the offense from the wing to the point guard midway through Darius Morris’ sophomore season. This adaptability shows he is willing to do what it takes schematically to win a title. So yes, Beilein is capable of bringing a national title to Michigan.