First Quarter Big Ten Conference Review

Big Ten Conference Basketball Predictions (adjusted for results)

A quarter of the way through the Big Ten season, the standings are starting to take shape. Here we will update the conference standings and compare the expected results against what really happened.  The state of Michigan is off to a combined 9-0 start while the rest of the Big Ten is 19-28.

But the schedule will toughen up for the Michigan Wolverines starting today as they have an away date with a Wisconsin club fresh off a bitter loss at Indiana.  How Wisconsin will react to their first loss of the season is unclear.  And while Michigan had defensive issues of their own exposed in closer than expected wins over Nebraska and Penn State, they have to be feeling good about how they are playing because of their undefeated record.

After playing Wisconsin in Madison tonight, the Iowa Hawkeyes come to Ann Arbor to challenge Michigan’s competency at home.  Finishing the brutal three game stretch is an away game in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans.

For those of you keeping track at home, those three teams currently combine for a remarkable 46-5 record.  It will be a tough stretch to say the least.

Luckily, the Michigan Wolverines can outperform anyone at home – illustrated by their 16-2 record at home in Big Ten play the last two seasons.  And if they can hold home-court and only beat Iowa during this hellish stretch, most people will consider it a victory.  However, challenges breed opportunity – and stealing a win from MSU or Wisconsin would make Michigan a favorite for the rest of the Big Ten season, firmly entrenched in the contender category.

While winning two of the next three is still an unlikely proposition, the 4-0 record Michigan currently sports has to give them the confidence to make it possible.

After that, a home date with Purdue closes out the January portion of the schedule.

Standings as of January 18th:

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Without further ado, here are my adjusted expected final Big Ten standings:


The rationale behind adjusting the standings was not based on performance or style, just the game results versus my initial outcomes.

Here are my thoughts about the results organized by team:

Penn St: Indiana and Minnesota both won in State College, PA. Then lost to Michigan on the road. Both validate their place in the lowest tier, probably at the bottom.

Nebraska: They lost to Michigan on their own home court and then at Purdue, validating their place in the lowest tier.

Northwestern: Lost to Michigan and Iowa on the road. Unsurprisingly, lost to MSU at home. However, came out of their home court with a win against Illinois. Upgrading expectations slightly – but more likely just a result of playing against in-state rivals.

Purdue: Beat Nebraska at home – validating spot in bottom-mid tier.  Split on the road with a loss at Minnesota, but surprisingly won at Illinois, slightly upgrading expectations.

Indiana: Expectedly lost to MSU at home in Bloomington, validating their place in the middle tier.  Held home-court by beating Wisconsin for the first time in thirteen attempts. Won on the road against Penn State, as they should.

Minnesota: Won at home vs Purdue and OSU, Won on the road against Penn State, but lost on the road vs MSU.

Illinois: Expectedly won at home vs PSU and lost on the road at Wisconsin.  Major downgrade after a loss at home to Purdue and but lost also lost at NW, downgrading expectations. Lost at home vs Wisconsin.

Iowa: Holds home-court vs NW, loses on the road to Wisconsin.  Surprisingly wins on the road at OSU.

Wisconsin: Holds home vs Iowa, Illinois.  Loses on the road at Indiana.

OSU: Holds home vs Nebraska, but fails at home against Iowa.  Loses on the road at MSU and Minnesota.

Michigan: Wins on the road at Nebraska and at home against cupcakes NW and PSU don’t go very far to validate this team’s place near the top of the standings yet, but that early season win at Minnesota is looking better after Minnesota’s upset of OSU.

MSU: Winning everywhere, even if it gets close (OT games at home vs OSU and Minnesota). But also winning on the road at Indiana (who just beat Wisconsin in Bloomington) and cupcake Northwestern.


More to come (1/12/14)

Hey everyone! Not much to talk about right now.. Besides close games in Lincoln, Nebraska and Madison, Wisconsin, an upset of Ohio State in Columbus by the Iowa Hawkeyes is the lone surprise of the week.

In a few days we’ll break down the first quarter of the Big Ten season, assessing the outcomes and adjusting the end of year expectations. In addition we’ll talk more about the Michigan men’s basketball team and what players will need to perform to carry this year’s team past the Sweet Sixteen.

Thanks for your patience, folks!

Complete Big Ten Conference Predictions

Big Ten Conference Basketball Predictions (plus other Week 1 observations)

Since the inception of the Big Ten schedule on New Year’s Eve, the first week’s results show the clear divide between the guaranteed tournament teams that should occupy the top 25 all year and teams fighting for a chance into the back end of the NCAA tournament.

While Michigan has a great team looking to build on the success the program has had recently, it has struggled against top-notch competition (see: @Duke, vs. Arizona).  Even more unfortunately for Michigan, its two most hated rivals – Ohio State and Michigan State – are currently ranked #3 and #4(Coaches)/#5(AP) in the country, depending on who you ask.

It doesn’t matter much because in either case, a third Big Ten team rounds out the top five – Wisconsin clocking in at #5/#4.

For anyone keeping track, Michigan is #34 in both “others receiving votes category” right now.  For a team with five freshmen and sophomores in a recently-depleted seven-deep rotation (senior Jordan Morgan and junior Jon Horford are the lone upperclassmen), early struggles are expected.  By the end of the year, expect this team to be in the top 25.  But winning the Big Ten will take a fantastic effort.

Since the schedule will be so important in determining the Big Ten champion in a season with so many talented teams at the top – we’ll keep an updated list of the results of the season here.  In addition, we’ll talk about the results of the year compared to the expected outcomes, so we will really know when the tide has shifted in someone’s favor.

It will also make for a great tool to keep track of rooting interests that most favor the Michigan Wolverines later in the season…

Without further ado, since most people in southeast Michigan are covered in snow… here is the forecast for 2014 Big Ten men’s basketball season:


A season sweep by Michigan State over Ohio State will be the difference at the top.  Five teams – MSU, Michigan, OSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa – all finish in the top 25, securing tournament bids.

The three bubble teams in Minnesota/Illinois/Indiana suffer to find opportunities to get quality wins against the teams at the top, winning mostly only while playing at home.

The first punches in the battle will be thrown this week when Wisconsin hosts Iowa today, Sunday, at 6:30 and then Illinois on Wednesday.  Ohio State visits Michigan State on Tuesday with a chance to make a big statement.  If they win, its not only a big resume-building win early in the season – it is a big tiebreaker in the conference race to go along with the confidence they gain beating the Spartans in Breslin.

Look for both Wisconsin and Michigan State to ferociously hold home-court with close wins.

Standings as of January 4th :


Last week:

Michigan earned an early win on the road over Minnesota last week, causing concerns about Minnesota’s closing ability in-conference yet again.  As for Michigan, the win upgrades conference expectations, even amidst questions regarding Glenn Robinson III’s health.

While little information has been put out regarding his long-term or short-term status, Beilein was pressured into giving a statement and cautiously classified Robinson as a “game-time decision.”

Ankle injuries can be especially nagging, and if the injury isn’t given adequate time to fully heal up-front, the injury can be re-aggravated easily and the location can be a reoccurring spot of pain when the player returns to full speed.

I would love to see Robinson III sit for as long as it takes to guarantee he won’t be suffering any symptoms come tournament time in March, when every team needs to be playing its best basketball.

While there were likely unique factors influencing the decisions of the Mitch McGary and the staff, hopefully the staff avoids risking a recurring injury like McGary’s, where his back pain was clearly present in the summer, but only now was the pain severe enough or limiting his play enough to warrant surgery.

Regardless, Michigan’s season is off on the right foot. And it continues noon, Sunday the 5th, at home in Michigan’s only game of the season versus Northwestern.

A Discussion of the Future of the Michigan-Michigan State Football Rivalry

Michigan State’s recent football is success is much more than the result of merely the last year of work.  What State’s success is built on started when Mark Dantonio was hired to be the head coach for the 2007 football season and is the result of State recruiting the right players into the program ever since.

Note that the word that we chose is not the best players – rather it says the right players.  State’s success is the result of the right kids joining up with a man that knew the how to win within the system.

Michigan State is no football slouch, but recruiting top-notch talent to East Lansing has never been done before.  Understanding this, Dantonio’s first goal was to set out to make State the premier destination for in-state kids.

A man by the name of Rich Rodriguez helped out Dantonio in this endeavor by choosing to leave the state of Michigan virtually untouched, choosing instead to harvest Florida for players like Denard Robinson.

For four classes from 2008-2011, Michigan grabbed only 20 players from the state of Michigan.  Meanwhile in one class, Michigan State signed ten players from Michigan, including soon-to-be star, Max Bullough.

After Dantonio was ridiculed for stating his desire for State to recruit nationally, it was he who had the last laugh – many key parts on both sides of the Rose Bowl winning Spartan team are from out-of-state recruits.  Wide receivers, defensive backs, and running backs from Florida and Georgia combine well with lineman from California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to form a team that is increasingly more national with each passing year.

However, Brady Hoke’s first full classes bucked the Wolverine’s downward trend by signing 9 players from Michigan in 2012 – including 8 of the state’s top 12 (compared to 2 for State), and 8 players in 2013 – including 6 of the top 11 (compared to 3 for State).

The balance of power in the state of Michigan for more than just the foreseeable future is surely up for grabs.  If Michigan State parlays this Rose Bowl season into a successful recruiting class filled with system players from around the country, there’s no reason to believe their temporary loss of recruiting control in the state of Michigan will be the end of the Spartan’s dominance of the rivalry.  While a traditionally successful Michigan Wolverines team will draw talent away from a Michigan State Spartans team, the final pieces yet to decide during this year’s recruiting cycle are falling green.  Unfortunately for the Wolverine, Michigan State can continue to hone its ability to run the ball and play the stingiest defense allowed by rules with any personnel – meaning they won’t miss a high school senior that chooses another university.

The catch of course is that Michigan typically recruits better than Michigan State – yet has been losing anyway.  So some ask why this is even a question.  This is true.  Recently it has been obvious that State has superior player development.  However Michigan’s would-be senior class, signed in 2010, is in absolute desolation.  This doesn’t explain why the losing started in 2008, but is important to understanding the current state of affairs – even if it won’t matter during Brady Hoke’s annual performance review.

Out of the 27 kids who committed, only 8 are still on the roster, with only Devin Gardner, Drew Dileo, Courtney Avery, and Jibreel Black becoming contributors.  Several of the committed players never made it to campus, some suffered career-ending injuries, while more left for more playing time elsewhere or just left football altogether.  While the class was ranked higher than Michigan State’s at the time of signing, Michigan’s is obviously handicapped.

And the suffering is not over for Michigan yet.  While the team was young along the interior of the offensive line and the defensive backfield last year, they at least had a reliable group of seniors.  This season, several more veterans graduate leaving behind starting spots to a group missing the majority of its senior class.  The absences will be felt mostly along the offensive and defensive lines and at the wide receiver position.

In other words or if you didn’t follow those last couple paragraphs, Michigan uf’d up again.

On the other side, Michigan State’s team is thriving.  There are underclassmen training in a system they will be executing in two years, sure of its merits.  So while Michigan is searching for answers on both sides of the ball, Michigan State really is reaching their full potential as Sparta, stocking up and constantly preparing for the next round of battles.  Once the last of Michigan’s small class of 2010 is gone and graduated after the 2014 season, there will be no more excuses for underperforming.  The roster will be fully stocked and the two-deep depth charts will be full of talented upperclassmen.  The only question becomes, does the Michigan coaching staff survive until then?

Why Doug Fister Had To Go

Why Doug Fister Had To Go (instead of Rick Porcello):

Before we get into the importance of starting pitching vs having a dominant bullpen in today’s game, let’s look at the core of the Tiger’s starting pitching staff as they will stand at the beginning of next season:

Justin Verlander = 31 years old. Salary = $20 million. He is worth every penny just to stop him from ever pitching for another team. Never slowing down since his debut season when he won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006 – his MVP and Cy Young award speak for themselves, but one thing he would love to add to his resume is a World Series MVP.

Anibal Sanchez = 30 years old. Salary = $8 million. Apparently learned a few things from being around the guys on the staff as he finished 4th in Cy Young voting after lowering his ERA to a career best 2.57 and his WHIP to a career low 1.154, while tying his career best with 202 strikeouts.

Max Scherzer = 29 years old, but turns 30 in the middle of the season in July.  Salary will increase this year with arbitration to ~$13 million.  Coming off a Cy Young season of his own, he is worth the money to keep and watch how he develops into his 30s.

That’s a core of pitchers that makes any manager happy come playoff time, when every game counts.  Not unrelated is the fact they command over $40 million annually, or about the salary of the whole Miami Marlins team.

Here is the root of the problem: Doug Fister will be 30 when the season starts and Rick Porcello will be 25.  That would mean our top four pitchers are all on the wrong side of 30.

To give that some scale, while Porcello has had some below average years, he has postseason starting experience and has potential to keep improving.  On the other hand, Fister made his MLB debut when he was 25, in one inning of relief during a blowout loss!  While Fister had arguably the best year of his career last year with career highs in strikeouts and wins and has really come into his own as a pitcher, his WHIP has increased each of the last three seasons, reaching a career worst 1.308 last year.

First off, at age 30, like the rest of the Tiger’s expensive core starters, how many years of elite production does he have left?

The Tiger’s didn’t want to ask that question about a fourth pitcher that costs over $5 million.  Instead they calculatingly gambled that Porcello will continue improving through his prime, similarly to how Fister did, while they still have him on contract for only $3 million.

While the Tiger’s infield was just retooled to reduce our crippling defensive deficiency, both Fister and Porcello are groundball pitchers.  The defense will be improved, but it is unreasonable to expect it to become an area of strength for various reasons.

Miguel Cabrera is moving back to his old position and may not be as sharp as he once was, that is debatable.  Ace shortshop Jose Iglesias and newly-acquired veteran Ian Kinsler will man the middle for years to come, but their chemistry needs to be developed before the results start exceeding expectations.  Especially considering the uncertainty at third base, where Detroit will be installing a new starter at the position for the first time since Cabrera switched positions.

Secondly, the value of starting pitchers only goes so far.  Since the Tigers first reached the World Series again in 2006, teams with stellar relief pitching have won all the World Series titles – whereas the Tiger’s bullpen has been and is still an area of concern.  While starting pitchers eat up innings throughout the year and provide high value, games are rarely won in the first six inning.

Powerhouse Bullpens and World Series Championships:

2006: St. Louis Cardinal’s closer, Jason Isringhausen, is the Cardinals highest paid pitcher.

2007: Boston Red Sox have eight relief pitchers who pitched in 20 or more games that have an ERA less than 4.0 – four of which are near a 2.0 ERA!

2008: Philadelphia Phillies have six relief pitchers with an ERA 3.5 or less who each pitched 40-90 innings.

2009: New York Yankees. Two words. Mariano Rivera.

2010: San Francisco Giants had a loaded bullpen – in addition to All-Stars Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo, this team was boosted in the playoffs by a midseason trade for relievers Ramirez and Lopez, who put up ERAs of 0.67 and 2.34 respectively

2011: St. Louis Cardinals. A midseason trade for Edwin Jackson allows a respected pitcher, Kyle McClellan, to transition to the bullpen filled with solid righties and lefties to allow for situational substituting (righty vs righty, lefty vs lefty).

2012: San Francisco Giants, led by Sergio Romo, has a bullpen with five pitchers under 2.9 ERA.

2013: Boston Red Sox star closer Koji Uehara had a 1.09 ERA while over 12 pitchers clocked 20 or more innings in a true bullpen by committee.

Instead of mimicking the unsuccessful starting pitcher strategy of the post-2008 Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tiger’s executive Dave Dombrowski prudently dealt away one of his aging starting pitchers in exchange for two young lefties that provide extra support in the bullpen.  More importantly, he signed All-Star free agent closer Joe Nathan to a two year contract worth $20 million, addressing the main issue.

In the end, the Yankees have proved to us there is never enough money in the budget to guarantee a championship.  All Dombrowski can do is learn from the mistakes of teams in the past, and spend money on positions that have directly hurt the Tigers in the past.  I believe he has done just that.

Michigan Men’s Basketball Big Ten Season Preview

BIG TEN Hoops Season Preview

Schedule Analysis.

Here we check out the best and worst-case scenarios for the Michigan men’s basketball team coming into the Big Ten season.  The way the schedule is set up, each team plays a home and home series against all the other teams in the conference except for four.  Michigan plays lowly Penn State and Northwestern only at home – and plays Ohio State (14-0) and Illinois (12-2) only on the road.

With losses against a respectable group of Arizona, Duke, and Iowa State (for the record Charlotte was not a respectable loss), Michigan may be the best 4-loss team in the country right now.   And the Big Ten has more teams set to make the tournament than the seven they sent last year in 2013! Evidence of the depth of the league showed when 6/7 won their first matchup.  It will be a fight to the finish in the Big Ten and the schedule can make or break your season… I’m looking at you right now, Iowa.


[1] updated as of 1/1/14

This table shows the average ranking of the teams on each contender’s Big Ten schedule.  Illinois and Indiana are stretch contenders that will need a miraculous run so I didn’t include them, but they may very well be top-50 teams in contention to make the tournament at the end of the season.  The verdict is the teams Michigan misses are an unfortunate group to miss.  They would probably rather get a shot at Ohio State and Illinois at home to give those two an extra loss in the end-of-year conference standings instead of guaranteeing wins at home against Penn State and Northwestern.

Wisconsin is a classic example of how important holding home-court is to the Big Ten championship race.  Imagine a world where home-court is the most important statistic to predict if a team will win or not.  A team playing in that world would win their nine conference games at home each year, lose their nine on the road, and go home 9-9.  In Wisconsin’s case, they identify easily winnable road games to put their record at a solid 12-6 or 13-5 annually.  Recruiting world-class talent is not easy for Wisconsin basketball, so it needs another way to guarantee success over the median even if the schedule is unfavorable.  The way they did it? Home-court advantage.

Well….this seemingly modest formula for success works so well that the last time they didn’t finish in the TOP FOUR in the conference was before Bo Ryan was introduced as coach in 2001! A CRAZY record considering Michigan celebrated the Manny Harris-led team that finished 7th place in the conference – the team that broke the NCAA tournament drought.  In Ryan’s first 8 seasons, his team was a remarkable 61-5 at home!  And the team had a part of three Big Ten titles.  Winning in the Big Ten is easy now, right? Wrong.

After Indiana seemingly had the Big Ten locked down going into the final week of the season in 2013, Ohio State came into their house and unseated them just in time for the final day of the year pitting Indiana against Michigan in Bloomington, IN.  The game was a raucous affair and came down to the buzzer. Hypothetically thinking now for anyone who remembers the game.  If Michigan’s last second scoring attempts had fallen through against Indiana, Trey Burke finishes tied for first atop the conference with Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State all combined at 13-5.  In reality, neither Burke’s last-ditch lay-up nor Morgan’s put-back attempt fall through after hanging on the edge of the rim a few milliseconds longer than Cody Zeller would have liked.  In reality, Indiana wins and finishes in sole possession of first place at 14-4.  Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan Wolverines slide together into a tie for 4th place at 12-6 – extending the fourth place or better streak to an astounding 12 years.

It is so incredibly difficult to maintain focus throughout the long season that there’s bound to be letdowns.  Although the season before Michigan had a miraculous run led by fantastic, senior classmen Zack Novak and Stu Douglas, and a perfect infusion of young talent in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to tie for first in the conference the season before, the Big Ten is so tough Michigan’s best team in recent memory couldn’t win it all (let’s be honest, the team that made it to the Final Four in 2013 was way better than the one that won the Big Ten in 2012).  The good news is Michigan has improved its home Big Ten record from 4-5 and 5-4 from 2009-2011 to 8-1 in each of the past two seasons, indicating they play at a higher level of intensity consistently from January to March and are more focused throughout the season.  In fact, it’s no coincidence Michigan got to hang its first Big Ten championship banner since 1986 when it started holding its own on home-court, and was only a tip-in away from hanging its second in a row last season.

With that done… Here are the best and worst-case scenario forecasts for Michigan’s Big Ten basketball season.

BEST CASE (13-5)

@Minnesota.                         L

NORTHWESTERN.             W

@Nebraska.                         W

PENN STATE.             W

@Wisconsin.                         L

IOWA.                                     W

@Michigan State.             L

PURDUE.                         W

@Indiana.                         W

NEBRASKA.                         W

@Iowa.                         L

@Ohio State.                         L

WISCONSIN.                         W

MICHIGAN STATE.             W

@Purdue.                         W

MINNESOTA.                         W

@Illinois.                         W

INDIANA                         W

Tied for 1st! Also tied: Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

home record = 9-0; away record = 4-5;


@Minnesota.                         L

NORTHWESTERN.             W

@Nebraska.                         W

PENN STATE.             W

@Wisconsin.                         L

IOWA.                                     L

@Michigan State.             L

PURDUE.                         W

@Indiana.                         L

NEBRASKA.                         W

@Iowa.                         L

@Ohio State.                         L

WISCONSIN.                         L

MICHIGAN STATE.             L

@Purdue.                         W

MINNESOTA.                         W

@Illinois.                         L

INDIANA.                         W

7th place;    Behind Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota.

home record = 6-3; away record = 2-8;

No McGary. No Worries.

BIG TEN Hoops Season Preview

No McGary. No Worries.

Mitch McGary was a huge bonus to the University of Michigan basketball team. Don’t get me wrong.  He consistently finished strong under the hoop to the tune of at least ten points a game and got the fast break going often – a testament to his tenacious rebounding as he corralled over 8 boards a game (including 3 on the offensive side).  On the defensive side, his energy and quick hands (42 steals and 28 blocks) are tough to imitate.   However, Michigan has a couple elder statesmen ready to go for the full marathon competition that is the Big Ten basketball schedule.

Starting off is redshirt senior 6’8” forward Jordan Morgan. While liable to explode in the pick n roll game against lesser teams (he once scored 27 against Northwestern) he hasn’t ever averaged more than 10 points per game in a season.  While unfortunate to not have a weapon in the paint, Michigan’s offense relies on scoring from its wings and guards, which I will talk about in a minute.

However average on offense Morgan may be, he has an established track record on defense as a coach’s dream because he always boxes out and is a solid hustler.  His first season on the court as a redshirt freshman, he played significant minutes helping Michigan to a series sweep against a hugely talented MSU frontcourt of Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, Delvon Roe, and led by consensus All-American Draymond Green.  As a steady force in the paint for 4 years, Morgan is well equipped to handle those defensive responsibilities smartly.

6’10” redshirt junior Jon Horford has always been more athletic and is a better shooter than Morgan.  However, a couple unfortunate knee injuries hampered his development with the nuances of the games by keeping him off the court against real competition.  Whereas Morgan struggles on offense against tall crowds under the hoop (especially trying to catch short, quick passes) Horford can finish through defenders.  He is faster and has more hop in his step, but with a knack for picking up fouls early and often he can’t be relied on as a go-to scorer.  While he is yet to sustain demonstrated success with the pick n roll, there’s an opportunity for huge improvements in his game as the year goes on and he develops chemistry with the point guards.  Some plays, Horford will dunk down a powerful jam, teasing the potential that makes him a valuable player.  Some plays, he is visibly overmatched.

Since John Beilein’s offense traditionally doesn’t run through its lone post position, many of McGary’s points were in the form of his own high energy ability to create opportunities like put-backs.  The Michigan offense is led by 45 points of scoring per game from Nik Stauskus, Glenn Robinson III, and Caris Levert.  The two point guards, Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton Jr, put in another 10 points per game together while performing their main job admirably – preventing turnovers.  In other words, we’ve got some guys that can score the ball.

The key question for Michigan this year now revolves around bouncing back from losing one of its leaders.  McGary’s defense is replaceable, but having one less big in the rotation can always hurt when foul trouble strikes.  6’7” redshirt sophomore Max Bielfeldt will bear some of the load on that front.  What may be less replaceable is the heart McGary plays the game with – shown when he is hustling to save balls from going out of bounds and getting on the floor when there is a loose ball to secure an extra possession.  McGary is immensely talented, but Coach Beilein’s offense doesn’t require a game-changing big.  The game plans will be adjusted to account for his missed presence.  And opposing players are probably glad they don’t have to guard him.  When he committed to play at the University of Michigan, everyone on campus celebrated like it was a terrific day.  And rightfully so!  He was crucial to Michigan’s national runner-up finish in 2013.

The verdict on losing McGary is that Michigan will survive, but losing him is losing a potentially game-changing mismatch against teams day in and day out.  Over the course of the Big Ten schedule, it may result in an extra loss or two, but Coach Beilein was playing with house money before and knows how to prepare a strategy for his team in any lineup.  With McGary, Michigan is 12-6 in the Big Ten and in the tournament for sure.  Without him, a tournament bid is very much still in order but expect some rough patches where his energy is missed.  Michigan should still finish the Big Ten season 10-8 or better.