The non-conference schedule for Michigan Basketball has been released. Who are the toughest opponents for the Wolverines to deal with?
Michigan Basketball has historically been a power conference program willing to play tough non-conference opponents. And this upcoming season is no exception, with three big names (Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina), along with the Legends Classic and a couple of interesting matchups against local foes.
Here are some takeaways I have from the important non-conference matchups for the Wolverines.
11/11 vs Eastern Michigan
The Eagles normally don’t have anything interesting on a national level but this time they have Emoni Bates, a transfer from Memphis and former five-star prospect. Michigan was reportedly in the mix with him this offseason but Bates is now in the MAC. That alone makes this an intriguing matchup on opening week.
11/16 and 11/17 vs Pittsburgh and VCU/Arizona State
The matchups for the first round of the Legends Classic have been released, with Michigan taking on the rebuilding ACC program. Pittsburgh hasn’t put up much of a fight in recent years but does have a quality big man in John Hugley that should give Hunter Dickinson a handful. The next day they’ll have a reunion with either Frankie Collins at Arizona State or with Zeb Jackson and Brandon Johns Jr. at VCU.
11/29 vs Virginia
The ACC/Big Challenge certainly gives the Wolverines a unique challenge in the Cavaliers, who play at the slowest pace in college basketball and can be very frustrating. They return almost everyone from last season and should be a top-25 team by the time these two face off.
12/4 vs Kentucky (in London)
Dickinson is one of the best bigs in the country but the best is Oscar Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player of the Year. He’s back, along with Sahvir Wheeler and five-star freshmen, Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston. They’re going to be a preseason top-10 team once again and this game with be must-watch.
12/21 vs North Carolina
The ultimate “revenge” game for the Wolverines, who lost to the Tar Heels by 21 points last season. The national runner-up brings back four starters and a top transfer in Pete Nance to have one of the best starting lineups in the country.
There’s a good chance that UNC will be the preseason No. 1 team in the country to start next season but who knows where both teams will be ranked when they play a few days before Christmas. One thing for sure is that this will be a very important matchup for Michigan Basketball and its resume-building, along with getting momentum before Big Ten play.