With the dust settled on rosters for the 2023-24 season, we’re going team-by-team in the Big Ten to assess where everyone stands and how things could shake out this year.
Next up is Michigan, a program that went 18-16 a year ago, including 11-9 in the Big Ten, and missed the NCAA Tournament. After winning the league in 2020-21, head coach Juwan Howard is just 37-31 in the two years since, although the Wolverines did finish in a tie for fifth in the Big Ten last season. He’ll enter this 2023-24 campaign with more roster upheaval and uncertainty than ever during his time at Ann Arbor.
- Jett Howard (14.2 PPG),
- Kobe Bufkin (14.0 PPG),
- Hunter Dickinson (18.5 PPG),
- Joey Baker (5.7 PPG),
- Isaiah Barnes (1.1 PPG),
- Gregg Glenn III (1.5 PPG)
- Jaelin Llewellyn, G – (7.0 PPG),
- Dug McDaniel, G – (8.6 PPG),
- Terrance Williams II, F – (6.1 PPG),
- Tarris Reed Jr., F – (3.4 PPG),
- Will Tschetter, F – (2.3 PPG),
- Jace Howard, G – (1.2 PPG),
- Youssef Khayat, F – (1.3 PPG)
- Tray Jackson, F – (6.5 PPG at Seton Hall),
- Nimari Burnett, G – (5.6 PPG at Alabama),
- Olivier Nkamhoua, F – (10.8 PPG at Tennessee)
Freshmen (Rankings from 247Sports Composite)
- George Washington III, G – (No. 93 in ESPN 100)
Note: The Wolverines also expected to add 6-foot-9 Argentinian Lee Aaliya, but he is not on their roster.
RETURNING MINUTES: 42.0 percent (per barttorvik.com)
WHY IT WILL WORK
Although it is fading in the rearview mirror, Howard and his staff have had significant success in the Big Ten. And they’ve never had a losing record in the conference in Howard’s four seasons.
This might be the least convincing roster Howard has had during his time in Ann Arbor, but there’s talent and size. Nkamhoua has All-Big Ten potential as a power forward, Burnett was a former 5-star recruit, guys like Jackson and Howard combine length with a modern game, and there’s potential at point guard.
And really, beyond Purdue and to a lesser extent Michigan State, the league lacks elite teams this year — so there’s a window for a team like Michigan to find answers and go on a run.
WHY IT WON’T
On paper it’s easy to see that the Wolverines have talent, but it isn’t easy to see how they will come together to form a functioning team, and who will take the reins as the main scoring threats. Jaelin Llewellyn isn’t expected to be fully healthy right away, they only have 11 scholarship players, and there aren’t any proven high-volume shooters.
Oh, and what if Howard’s early success was really just the last remnants of the John Beilein era? We’re about to find out, because this is a total rebuild, coming off a disappointing season.
In some ways, Michigan’s question marks look like Indiana’s, with significant losses in production and no clear leaders to step in and take over. But while both teams appear to have a lot of potential in the front court, Michigan’s backcourt is where the real questions exist. They are unproven, unhealthy and don’t appear to be particularly dynamic at guard.
The uncertainty surrounding this team extends to Howard’s health. The Wolverines will go through most, and perhaps all of their preseason practice without their head coach after he had a heart procedure earlier this month.
The Wolverines also must face both Purdue and Michigan State twice in the Big Ten’s imbalanced schedule. Howard has surprised us before, but it’s difficult to imagine a major turnaround this season.
BIG TEN OUTLOOK: Bottom half of the league
PRIOR ROSTER ANALYSES:
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”