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Thursday, February 7, 2013
WolverineNation Mailbag

By Michael Rothstein

Ohio State/Michigan
Freshman Glenn Robinson III is just one of the U-M underclassmen who could leave early.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Signing day is in the books so the WolverineNation mailbag has an eye to the future.

There’s still a month of regular season basketball left and already a peek into 2014 recruiting. These things and more are covered this week.

Have questions for the Mailbag? Send them to @chanteljennings on Twitter or jenningsespn@gmail.com by email.

On to your questions.

Don from Hammond, Ind. : With the current success of Michigan basketball and the high draft probability of the players, who do you see returning next season and why? 

It’s a good question and I’ll preface this with there is still a long way to go between now and April, when early entry decisions have to be made. Usually the rule of thumb is if the player is a first-round draft pick -- especially in the Top 20 -- they are probably better off heading off for their professional endeavors. This is good, and bad, news for Michigan. The good news is at least one of the current Michigan players will be the Wolverines’ first first-round draft pick since Jamal Crawford went eighth in the 2000 NBA Draft.

The bad news is the player who is likely to break that streak is an underclassman with next to no chance of sticking around in Ann Arbor for four seasons. Trey Burke went from a fringe first-round pick after his freshman year to at least a potential late lottery pick this season. Glenn Robinson III, while still raw, has every tool to have a long NBA career and the size and jumping ability pro teams love. Mitch McGary has the size and energy teams covet and has shown flashes of being dominant big man down the road.

All of that is background to say I would be floored if Michigan’s entire rotation -- all of whom have eligibility left -- returned next season. It all depends on who wants what out of college and a professional career. But a first-round selection, and the guaranteed contract that goes with it, is awful hard to pass up.

@GoBlue_Team135 from Twitter: With the 2013 recruiting class wrapped up, what should be Brady Hoke's No. 1 priority heading forward.

His top priority today should be talking with the media. Kidding. His first priority will be to focus on the 2014 class. The Wolverines have two commits in the class, linebacker Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville) and a signing day surprise, QB Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate), and a bunch of other offers already out.

br220253 from The Den: With nine conference games left, including some very tough road tests (at Wisconsin and at Michigan State), how do you see this team finishing up (record, B1G tourney seed, and NCAA tourney seed)?  Would simply defending home court and going .500 on the road put them in contention to win the B1G regular season?

Your last question first -- yes, it would. The Big Ten is extremely talented at the top and a split with most of the teams in the top half along with beating the bottom half of the Big Ten at home and on the road would potentially be enough for at least a share of the Big Ten title. It is actually why this weekend is so big. Michigan doesn’t get Wisconsin at home, so if it wants to keep pace, the Wolverines have a big game in Madison. I see Michigan finishing up at 14-4, which would be   good enough for a share of the Big Ten title. The share of the Big Ten title, and a 14-4 record along with a trip to the Big Ten championship game (at least) would give Michigan a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and, depending how Indiana finishes up, could give the Wolverines the coveted Indianapolis regional path to the Final Four instead of a potential trip to Los Angeles.