Preview: Michigan Wolverines

John Beilein's team enters the season among favorites to win Big Ten

Updated: October 22, 2013, 4:03 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

Michigan FreshmanAP Photo/Carlos OsorioCan Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas get Michigan back to the title game?

Michigan Wolverines

2012-13: 31-8 (12-6)
In-conference offense: 1.12 points per possession (2nd)
In-conference defense: 1.02 points per possession (6th)

After Michigan matched the school record for victories and finished six points shy of a national title, Big Ten foes might be hoping that the resultant talent drain would be enough to bring the Wolverines back to the pack. But while John Beilein has to replace national player of the year Trey Burke and fellow NBA first-rounder Tim Hardaway Jr., the cupboard is far from bare in Ann Arbor. In fact, the Wolverines are well-positioned for their most sustained period of high-level success since the days of the Fab Five.

With plenty of star power and the nation's best offense, Michigan won its first 16 games and remained in the AP's top 10 all season. A 5-5 stretch during Big Ten play and a second-round exit in the conference tournament tempered NCAA expectations a bit, but with supporting players like Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas chipping in with spotlight March performances, Michigan nearly ran the table. Only a second-half comeback by Louisville's smothering defense kept the Wolverines from bringing home the school's second national championship.

Glenn Robinson III and McGary both return this season as the foundation for a deep and talented Michigan squad that could end up being every bit as good as last year. For that to happen, Beilein will be hoping for immediate impact from a pair of freshmen who, in the abstract, seem an awful lot like young versions of the players they will attempt to replace.