Preseason Preview: Michigan

Marquette Men's Basketball

Marquette Men’s Basketball

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. The next time is who we at Paint Touches’ think Marquette’s most likely opponent is for the 3rd round of the Maui Invitational. After both teams split their first two games, we expect to see the Michigan Wolverines in the third place game.

Team: Michigan Wolverines
16-17 Record: 26-12 (10-8 B1G)
Postseason?: Winning the Big Ten tournament got them a 7 seed. They squeaked by Oklahoma State and Louisville before losing by 1 to Oregon in the Sweet 16.
16-17 KenPom: 20
Date: 11/22/17
Location: Lahaina Civic Center
Coach: John Beilein (11th Season)
Projected KenPom Range: 25-75
Projected Conference Finish: 7/14 in the Big 10

Departures from 16-17
Derrick Walton Jr: Starting PG: 34.8 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .436 FG%, .422 3P% (Graduated)
Zak Irvin: Starting Wing: 35.4 mpg, 13.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .453 FG%, .344 3P% (Graduated)
DJ Wilson: Starting C: 30.4 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.5 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .538 FG%, .373 3P% (Declared for NBA, drafted 17th overall by Milwaukee)
Mark Donnal: 2nd Man off the Bench: 12.2 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.4 tpg, .617 FG%, .500 3P% (Graduate transferred to Clemson)
Sean Lonergan: Benchwarmer: 2.1 mpg, 0.6 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.1 tpg, .444 FG%, .000 3P% (only appeared in 17 games) (Left team for personal reasons)
Fred Wright-Jones: Benchwarmer: 1.4 mpg, 0.4 ppg, 0.1 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.1 tpg, .250 FG%, .500 3P% (Only appeared in 13 games) (Left team for personal reasons)
Andrew Dakich: Benchwarmer: Did not appear in any games (Graduate transferred to Ohio State)
58% of scoring, 58% of rebounding, 68% of assists, 48% of steals, 67% of blocks, 56% of 3PM

Jaaron Simmons: Graduate Transfer PG from Ohio
Charles Matthews: Transfer SG from Kentucky
Jordan Poole: 4-star SG, ranked #89 overall by 247Sports
Austin Davis: 2016 3-star C, ranked #176 overall by 247Sports (returning from redshirt)
Isaiah Livers: 3-star PF, ranked #153 overall by 247Sports
Eli Brooks: 3-star PG, ranked #198 overall by 247Sports
Luke Wilson: Walk on PG
Naji Ozeir: Walk on PF

Probable Starters:
PG: Jaaron Simmons: 6-1 185 lb RSSR: 36.0 mpg, 15.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.5 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 4.0 tpg, .433 FG% .346 3P% (stats for Ohio)
SG: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rankhman: 6-4 190 lb SR: 30.6 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .463 FG%, .378 3P%
SF: Charles Matthews: 6-6 200 lb RSSO: 10.3 mpg, 1.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .442 FG%, .250 3P% (15-16 stats for Kentucky)
PF: Duncan Robinson: 6-8 215 lb RSSR: 20.1 mpg, 7.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .479 FG%, .424 3P%
C: Moritz Wagner: 6-11 245 lb JR: 23.9 mpg, 12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .560 FG%, .395 3P%

Probable Bench:
Jordan Poole: 6-4 190 lb FR SG
Zavier Simpson: 6-0 185 lb SO PG
Austin Davis: 6-10 245 lb RSFR C
Isaiah Livers: 6-7 230 lb FR SF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Ibi Watson: 6-5 200 lb SO SG
Jon Teske: 7-1 255 lb SO C
Eli Brooks: 6-0 170 lb FR PG
Brent Hibbitts: 6-8 220 lb RSSO SF
Luke Wilson: 6-0 165 lb FR PG
Naji Ozeir: 6-8 225 lb FR PF


• There was no team hotter than Michigan heading into the Madness last season. After a lukewarm 4-6 start in conference play, the Wolverines went on a tear, winning 10 of 12 including sweeping through the Big 10 Tournament. Those two losses were also close ones on the road, one in overtime and one on a miracle last second play. Departed from that team are the three best players including one who ended up being an NBA first round draft pick. Coming in they have a decent recruiting class and two impact transfers. They have the look of a bubble team this season.
• Going into the offseason, Michigan had a gaping hole at the point guard position with Derrick Walton Jr graduating. Coach Beilein addressed this by going out and securing one of the best graduate transfers available in Jaaron Simmons. Simmons has been the man down in Athens, Ohio for the past two seasons. His 16 points and 6.5 assists a game were among the best for D1 point guards, but was actually down from his redshirt sophomore year where he averaged 15.5 points and 7.9 assists. Simmons should be an excellent distributor for the Wolverines but they might want to temper their expectations for his scoring. At Ohio, Simmons go to moves were attacking off the pick and roll and taking his man in isolation. He was a mediocre spot up shooter and very poor in transition. Taking on Big 10 level defenders is going to be a much stiffer challenge than MAC defenders. Typically, strong spot up shooters have an easier time adjusting to the high majors. Simmons was a strong on ball defender so if he can bring distribution and defense he should be a quality player for Michigan.
• Replacing scoring wing Zak Irvin is a player that Marquette die hards might be familiar with. Charles Matthews spent a lot of his high school career ranked as a 5-star prospect. The Chicago product was down to a top 5 of Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Illinois, and Marquette (A bunch of blue bloods, a local state school, and Marquette…sound like anyone we are recruiting now?). There were some rumblings that Marquette might have been the dark horse that was going to land his services but ultimately he ended up at Kentucky. He fell in the rankings his senior season, ending up more like a top 75 recruit than the top 15 he was projected to be. While he played in every game for Big Blue in 15-16, he was the last guy in their rotation and unless you count some stat padding in blowout victories, he never got meaningful minutes. Now after a year of sitting out, he is ready to hit the floor as a Wolverine. His size and athleticism should serve him well but he was never known as a shooter the way Irvin was.
• Replacing DJ Wilson at the center position is going to fall to his former partner in the post, Moritz Wagner. The German born Wagner is everything you would expect a European big man to be. Big, skilled, able to stretch the floor, and not as physical as you might expect but can turn it on when necessary. You would be hard pressed to find a more efficient scorer than Wagner. His points per possession ranked in the 96th percentile of all D1 players. While he’s feared for his outside shot, he is at his best when he sets a pick and gets the ball back as a roll man, whether that’s a dump into the post or a pick and pop situation. Like Wilson, Wagner toyed with declaring for the NBA draft, but it was his defense that kept him at the collegiate level. He is backed down in the post very easily, lacks lateral quickness to guard the perimeter and was no where near the rim protector that Wilson was.
• Marquette and Michigan went head to head on the recruiting trail a few times in the class of 2017. Marquette snagged Jamal Cain out of Michigan’s backyard but the Wolverines managed to snatch Jordan Poole from the other side of Milwaukee. Time will tell which school got the better deal but rankings would tell you it was Michigan. Poole is a shifty two guard with a confident jumpshot. His ball handling is coming along but his shooting ability should go a long way towards replacing some of the range that Michigan lost. The Wolverines have a solid starting 5 but not much in the way of bench production. Poole could be a valuable spark coming off the bench.

Of all the preseason predictions that we are making, this by far is the biggest tossup. When we made the S-Curve for our “Way Too Early Bracketology” this summer, Michigan and Marquette ended up literally right next to each other. Now they will possibly be playing on a neutral court. Last season, Michigan smoked Marquette in their holiday tournament. It was an 18-point beatdown and it didn’t even feel that close (Michigan had a 24 point lead at the half). If this year’s matchup comes to pass, it should be a much closer affair. Three of the four players who abused Marquette (DJ Wilson, Zak Irvin, and Mark Donnal) are now gone. Key to this game is going to be establishing a post presence early. Neither Moritz nor Duncan Robinson have any defensive ability, and the big men coming off the bench are huge question marks. Punish their best offensive player by abusing him on defense. Michigan might end up being the better team by the end of the season, but with more returning production on the roster, I think Marquette takes this early season matchup by one or two possessions.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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