Michigan is coming off a year in which the Wolverines won the Big Ten regular-season title outright and advanced to the Elite Eight while playing without senior forward Isaiah Livers during its postseason run.
The Maize and Blue were ranked No. 25 nationally in the preseason Associated Press top 25 rankings, but were able to exceed expectations by a substantial margin — showing that the system is indeed imperfect.
Now, after seeing high levels of success in year two of the Juwan Howard era, Michigan is receiving praise from national analysts and oddsmakers, and is expected to be among the nation’s elite once again next season.
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Michigan Wolverines basketball senior forward Eli Brooks averaged 9.5 points per game last season. (USA TODAY Sports Images)
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The latest to recognize Michigan as a top-tier team is CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, who updated his ‘way-too-early’ top 25 rankings and placed the Wolverines at No. 10. That is a bump up of one spot from where they previously ranked. The reason for rising one spot is simple: It is now confirmed that senior guard Eli Brooks, who averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in 2020-21, will use his extra year of eligibility and return to the program for one more season.
CBS Sports analyst Jon Rothstein actually pegged Michigan at No. 10 in his updated rankings for College Hoops Today as well, with Brooks’ decision playing a key role in that.
There are still questions to be answered as the offseason progresses, but the picture of what Michigan’s roster will look like next season is becoming clearer.
“This ranking is tied to the idea that [sophomore wing] Franz Wagner will enter the NBA Draft while [freshman center] Hunter Dickinson returns for his sophomore season at Michigan, where he’ll likely be the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year.
“Eli Brooks’ decision to play another season for the Wolverines provides Juwan Howard with an additional experienced piece to pair with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class featuring five star prospects Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate.”
There is currently no timetable for decisions to be announced by Wagner and Dickinson, though it’s fair to assume that Parrish’s prediction will end up being accurate. Wagner is projected as a lottery pick in July’s NBA Draft, while Dickinson is not showing up on mock drafts and has been strongly leaning towards returning for some time.
Another big question is whether or not Howard will land a transfer guard. He is pursuing multiple, after Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown decided to pursue the NBA after this past season. Livers and fifth-year senior forward Austin Davis will also pursue professional careers and not utilize the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility (Davis may return to the program in a role with the staff).
Michigan In Early Top 25 Rankings
* Updated following the announcement of Eli Brooks’ return
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