(Part Ten of a Ten-Part Series)
We have extensively reviewed the MSU and UM Men's Basketball teams as we enjoy the off-season, and now it's time to tie it all up together. After looking very closely at nine different measurable factors, let's add up the results to put it all into perspective.
Here are the categories we've reviewed, along with the comparative results between the two teams. Each category heading is linked to the associated post detail:
TEAM BALANCE: The Spartans have excellent balance throughout their roster, with players from at least three classes expected to be heavy contributors, and players at the same position spread amongst all the class-levels. Advantage MSU
POINT GUARDS: The Spartans have three returning point-guards who played 100% of the position minutes, while UM loses their point-guard and will rely on a freshman to lead their team. Advantage MSU
SHOOTING GUARDS: It's a close call between Gary Harris and whomever may play shooting-guard for UM, but no Wolverine surpasses Harris. Advantage MSU
SMALL FORWARDS: Another close call between Branden Dawson and the several players who may play against him, but Dawson has size and experience and productivity on his side of the equation. Advantage MSU
POWER FORWARDS: Adreian Payne wins any possible match-up at power-forward. Advantage MSU
CENTERS: We give Mitch McGary the nod over Matt Costello at Center, but it may be closer than many people think by next winter. However, Horford and Morgan are the most experienced big men on either team. Advantage UM
BENCH STRENGTH: With more than a dozen players coming off the bench, six of them freshmen who haven't played yet, it's hard to get a line on this category. It looks pretty even. DRAW
EXPERIENCE: The Spartans return much more experience than most teams, including UM. Advantage MSU
PERFORMANCE STATISTICS: Michigan State returns about 80% or more in most statistical categories, while Michigan loses around 50% of almost everything. Advantage MSU
Using these nine categories, MSU leads 7-to-1 with a draw. Two areas were quite close, as UM brings viable players to Center and the two Forward positions. Just one or two untimely injuries for the Spartans and this comparison could become 5-3 or even 4-4. (And we've certainly seen such injuries in the past, especially during the off-season.) But Michigan is more vulnerable to such a mishap, as they could ill afford to lose one of their big three sophomores or either of their top freshmen.
And that's the whole answer in a nutshell. For Michigan to do very well next year, they need at least two freshmen to have excellent seasons, along with one or two veterans showing a major jump in performance factors. That could all happen, but frankly, without it they have little chance of getting any trophies next season. Without two all-star freshmen and multiple candidates for the team "Most Improved Player" award, the Wolverines will be respectable and will probably cap-out at around 20 wins. An injury or two for them to contend with could mean bubble-status.
Turns out the rampant over-rankings of Michigan seem to have cooled off. After a multitude of Top Five preseason picks right after their five-game win streak, they may have started to find their own (lower) level in the minds of sports geeks everywhere. That's fine either way, I really don't care that much about rankings in the sport that has the best playoff system at the college level. Just wanted to point out a few things from our perspective in order to balance out the picture.
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