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Breaking Down Michigan’s 2019-’20 Schedule

What are the Wolverines up against this season?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a new era for Michigan basketball with the return of Fab Five legend Juwan Howard on the bench in his first collegiate coaching role.

Outside the new coaching staff, Michigan is replacing three starters off a team that went to the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive season.

Still, some talented pieces that remain from that 30-win squad. Seniors Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske possess a tricky pick and roll and are some of the best defenders at their respective positions in the Big Ten.

Michigan still should be a dangerous presence this season in the Big Ten. Let’s take a look at what they are up against.

Michigan’s 2019-’20 Schedule

  • 11/5 vs Appalachian State
  • 11/12 vs Creighton
  • 11/15 vs Elon
  • 11/22 vs Houston Baptist
  • 11/27 vs Iowa State (neutral)
  • 11/28 vs Alabama/North Carolina (neutral)
  • 12/3 at Louisville
  • 12/6 vs Iowa
  • 12/11 at Illinois
  • 12/14 vs Oregon
  • 12/21 vs Presbyterian College
  • 12/29 vs UMass Lowell
  • 1/5 at Michigan State
  • 1/9 vs Purdue
  • 1/12 at Minnesota
  • 1/17 at Iowa
  • 1/22 vs Penn State
  • 1/25 vs Illinois
  • 1/28 at Nebraska
  • 2/1 vs Rutgers (neutral)
  • 2/4 vs Ohio State
  • 2/8 vs Michigan State
  • 2/12 at Northwestern
  • 2/16 vs Indiana
  • 2/19 at Rutgers
  • 2/22 at Purdue
  • 2/27 vs Wisconsin
  • 3/1 at Ohio State
  • 3/5 vs Nebraska
  • 3/8 at Maryland

Non-Conference Breakdown

Holiday Tournament

The Wolverines head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament from November 27-29th.

The first game from Paradise Island will be against the Iowa State Cyclones. Both T-Rank and KenPom put this at around a 60 percent chance for a Wolverine win. Iowa State projects to be seventh in the Big 12 this season.

Iowa State, a long-time NCAA transfer destination, has two talented ones in seniors Prentiss Nixon (Colorado State) and Michael Jacobson (Nebraska). Michigan also needs to contain potential breakout candidate, sophomore Tyrese Haliburton. The 6-foot-5 guard averaged nearly 44 percent from three-point range last season on 113 attempts. Take a look at some of his highlights below.

After this matchup, Michigan will play either the winner/loser of Alabama and North Carolina. The Crimson Tide project to be a middling SEC team, while North Carolina will once again compete at the highest levels of college basketball.

Should the Wolverines take on the Tar Heels, a player to watch on the North Carolina side is freshman phenom, Cole Anthony. The 6-foot-3 guard son of NBA player Greg Anthony was a top-5 national recruit and is known as an explosive scorer. Take a look at some of his high school highlights.

Gavitt Games

For the latest version of the Big Ten-Big East clash, Michigan will face off against the Creighton Blue Jays. Greg McDermott’s squad projects to be a six seed right now on Bracketology and are a top-40 squad on KenPom and T-Rank.

This is a nice opportunity for Michigan to pick up a solid home Quad I victory. They should be favored here by multiple possessions and should be able to keep this victory on their resume throughout the season.

To do this though, they’ll need to watch out for 6-foot-5 Mitch Ballock. The talented junior averaged nearly 12 points per game last season and shot 42 percent from three. Take a look at a game last season against DePaul in which Ballock rained down a school-record 11 three-pointers.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Michigan faces an unenviable task of traveling to Louisville to face off against the young and talented Cardinals.

Chris Mack, in his second season at the helm, welcomes a top-12 recruiting class this season and a talented group back from last season that made the NCAA Tournament.

This one will be a tough challenge for the Wolverines. Most likely, the Cardinals will be in the top-5 when they welcome Michigan into the Yum Center. KenPom and T-Rank both put this around an 80 percent chance of a Louisville victory. If the Wolverines want to pull off the upset one player they will need to look out for is 6-foot-7 junior Jordan Nwora. Take a look at some of his highlights from last season.

Conference Breakdown

Toughest Stretch

  • 1/5 at Michigan State
  • 1/9 vs Purdue
  • 1/12 at Minnesota
  • 1/17 at Iowa

All in all, Michigan’s Big Ten slate is pretty manageable and has a nice balance to it. There isn’t a murderer’s row of games like for other teams around the league, but in a 20-game league schedule, it is going to be tough in spots.

I picked this stretch in January because the Wolverines go on the road in three out of four games, and play one of the Big Ten’s better teams in Purdue at home. I also think it exemplifies Michigan’s Big Ten slate overall - tough in spots, but also manageable.

Now there’s the other side of this as well. Michigan will probably be favored in 2 (probably 3 with the Purdue game). These aren’t open and shut games though. Michigan could easily lose all three road games and win the home game. A 1-3 stretch here isn’t ideal. So while this schedule is manageable, it is also precarious.

Road Game To Watch Out For

On February 19th Michigan heads to Rutgers for a stretch run game against the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers is continuing to improve under Steve Pikiell and this should be his best team yet.

Another reason to watch out for this one is that Michigan has another big road game in West Lafayette against Purdue right after this one. As we’ve seen over the past few seasons, Rutgers knocks off a lot of people at home - hopefully Michigan isn’t looking ahead.

Overall Outlook

This is a Michigan schedule that is well-balanced. There are a few opportunities to hit home runs (North Carolina and Louisville), and chances at home to pick up Quad I wins (Creighton and Oregon). Outside of those Power 6 matchups, no team should challenge Michigan in non-conference play. This should allow for everyone to adjust to the new program and get on the same page.

In Big Ten play, Michigan follows the same well-balanced script. There are two four-game stretches with three road games in them, but this is mostly an even-keeled mix of challenging games followed my more manageable home games.

Michigan is a bit of a wild card this season. No one knows what to expect with Coach Howard. This schedule gives them plenty of opportunities to settle in and make some noise.