by Nick Rapier
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. Emerson, Lake and Palmer had the right idea back in 1974, but I doubt that college basketball was their motivation. It is time for the over analyzing and opinionated arguing to begin. This early in the season it is interesting to speculate about teams and conferences, as well as individual players. Amid the flowering expectations of so many teams this season resides an ugly truth: only one team will be able to call themselves champions on April 8th. As with every season, there are a multitude of fan bases who believe this could be their year. I am not here to rain on anyone’s parade, steal your candy, or cancel Christmas, but to me it is quite obvious who will be cutting down the nets in Atlanta come April…and it’s not who you might expect.
Are the gears in your head turning yet? Another characteristic of the past few national champions is that they fielded a team with multiple NBA prospects. Whether we look at Kemba Walker in 2011 or Mario Chalmers in 2008, having one or more players that can put the team on their back is a powerful asset. I know, get to the point already. Which team will cut down the nets this year? The Michigan Wolverines. And here’s why.
For lack of a better word, PG Trey Burke is a beast. Number 3 for the maize and blue has started his sophomore season as if shot out of a cannon racking up an explosive 18.3 points per game to go along with 8 assists. Granted, they’ve only played 3 games, but I sense something special on the horizon for the Wolverines. Michigan started this season ranked 5th in both polls (well within my top 10 requirement). I would venture to say that they are flying somewhat under the radar thus far this season, which is certainly alright with Coach John Beilein. Not to be overlooked on this squad are a plethora of talented players including junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and freshmen duo Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. The hard-court pride of Ann Arbor have embarrassed opponents so far, winning by an average of 35 points (albeit against subpar adversaries).
If the Wolverines are able to amass the season consistent with their blistering start, they will be in the mix to win it all in March. Ranking 4th in field goal percentage, 10th in scoring offense, while coming in at 31st and 33rd in rebounds and assists per game, respectively, shows Beilein’s team can get after it offensively. Skilled big men paired with a ferocious back-court, is certainly a recipe for success. It will be interesting to see if Michigan is able to continue performing well and improve throughout the season. Sure, it may be a little early to crown a national champion, but you heard it here first… University of Michigan, 2013 NCAA basketball champions.