Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.
What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.
Gotta have it list-topper: Interior Depth
What do you get a team that has (almost) everything? The Wolverines have three legitimate scorers, among them one of the nation’s best point guards, Trey Burke. They have a three-point threat in freshman Nik Stauskas, who is shooting nearly 55 percent from behind the arc. They have rebounders with Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary. They don’t turn the ball over. They’re in the Top 10 in the country in shooting percentage.
But outside of McGary and Morgan, especially considering Saturday’s injury to Jon Horford, Michigan is thin on the front line. Coach Jon Beilein started Burke, three wings, and Morgan against West Virginia, with McGary off the bench. Against larger teams in the Big Ten, Beilein may need to boost the minutes of his interior players, but it can only go so far. Despite the weakness, Michigan is a legitimate Top 3 team.
Stocking stuffer: Defense around the rim
The stocking stuffer circles back to Michigan’s lack of depth on the interior. They don’t desperately need it, but they rank 260th in the country in blocks per game as a team with 2.6. Both Morgan and McGary are not shotblocking bigs, though their ability to rebound takes away the sting of not blocking shots. Horford, who dislocated his knee cap Saturday night against West Virginia, is the team’s leading shot blocker with–get this– 0.5 blocks per game. Half a block per game.
Planning on re-gifting: The upcoming Big Ten schedule
Despite their early success, the Wolverines will have a grueling Big Ten slate when conference play roles around. As it stands now, Michigan will play nine of its 18 conference games against teams ranked in the nation’s Top 20, including on the road against No. 7 Ohio State, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 10 Illinois, No. 1 Indiana, and No. 19 Michigan State.
The conference schedule begins Jan. 3 against Northwestern.