It's time to examine the non-conference slate for the Michigan Wolverines. While they won't travel to Hawaii or Atlantis, Michigan fans will be treated to some very solid games.
Like all powerhouse programs, they start out with some cupcakes. Wayne State and Hillsdale College shouldn't be a problem at home. Next, Bucknell and Detroit come to town for the Legends Classic Ann Arbor Regional, the real Granddaddy Of Them All. Ray McCallum isn't walking through that door, so they should be good there.
Next, Michigan travels to Brooklyn to face an underratedly solid lineup of Oregon and then either VCU or Villanova. B1G fans are familiar with the Ducks, as Wisconsin beat them in the Round of 32 last season. Oregon was filled with seniors last year, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to that roster turnover. VCU's aggressive and turnover-inducing defense will be a test for Derrick Walton, Jr., as he looks to built upon a solid freshman campaign. Villanova will only lose one starter, and I expect big things from Ryan Arcidiacono. That will be another great matchup for Walton.
The crown jewel of their schedule comes on December 2, when Syracuse comes to town. That will be a huge game for both teams, and will be an opportunity for two teams that lost a lot to prove that they are still contenders. In terms of high-quality freshman, I would give the advantage to Syracuse. Chris McCullough will become a hell of a player, but that's not a knock on Kameron Chatman. I think the fact that Michigan will play that game at home will be huge, and see the Wolverines pulling out a victory.
After hosting NJIT and Eastern Michigan, they travel to Tuscon for their other major test. Outside of Aaron Gordon, the Arizona Wildcats will bring back a very similar team. And they'll just slide Rondae Hollis-Jefferson into the lineup in lieu of Gordon, who's a lottery pick in his own right. I don't see Michigan escaping Arizona with a victory. Arizona is too experienced and will be hungry from last year.
Sadly, their December 20 matchup with SMU will be significantly less sexy. Top prospect Emmaneul Mudiay will no longer play for the Fightin' Larry Browns, as he's playing professionally in China. That's a bummer, because that would be a heck of a game. SMU is still a squad, but Michigan should take care of them.
With a home date with Coppin State, that marks the end of Michigan's non-conference schedule. Thoughts? Let us know in the comments.