Mass-Lowell (0-0, 0-0) at Michigan (0-0, 0-0)
7:00 PM EST
Series Record: First meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Blog Representation: Maize N Brew
Originally the match-up between Mass-Lowell and Michigan was relatively trivial, with the Wolverines being the runaway favorite. However, the news that Mitch McGary would miss the season opener has helped pipe in quite a bit of interest in the game. McGary's back injury has been a lingering issue and it's not a telling sign that he's sitting out the opener. While the team won't need McGary to win their opener, the coaching staff had repeatedly attempted to reassure the fans/media that McGary was fine and he would be ready to go. Now there's been some backing down and speculation he could miss considerable time early in the season.
This of course could be problematic for the Wolverines as their schedule includes Iowa State, Florida State/VCU, Duke, Stanford and Arizona. There's enough winnable games for the Wolverines out of conference to not hinder their NCAA chances, but if McGary isn't cleared until late December than Michigan could fall out of contention as a serious player and fade to an at-large bid team. It also could be an issue if McGary sits out more time as he missed most of the fall practices and his physical conditioning could become problematic.
Luckily for McGary, at least the team has a number of options on offense to pick up some of the slack. Glenn Robinson III is the real deal, while Nik Stauskas and Spike Albrecht are very good from outside. Of course there are some ongoing story lines here outside of McGary that are worth monitoring. The most noticeable storyline will be Albrecht and Derrick Walton, both of which will be vying for the starting point guard position. Walton is the more athletic option and is considerably better on defense, but Albrecht still has everyone singing his praises after the first half of the title game versus Louisville.
The reality is Albrecht may start early but it's only until Walton can get some experience at the point. Walton beats Albrecht at almost everything on the court and the need for a defensively challenged point guard that can only shoot from outside tends to sway when you already have Stauskas, one of the nations best three point shooters. Also, Caris LeVert has shown signs of potential but he'll need to convert the quality of his practices and get those results come game time.