Last Friday, Michigan kicked their season off with an exhibition game win over Division II Grand Valley State. Although the game doesn’t go into the official win/loss column for the year, it gave the Wolverines an opportunity to face-off against players outside of their own team. It also answered the question as to what Michigan’s starting lineup will look like when the real games begin. Michigan will host North Florida at Crisler Center on Saturday at 7:30 as they get their season underway.
Moritz Wagner (F) – 14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
Wagner really came on down the stretch last season, especially with his 26-point effort against Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The German flirted with the NBA draft a few months ago before deciding to return. He will lead the team in scoring and continue his emergence.
Charles Matthews (G) – 12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
A top fifty ranked recruit in the class of 2015, Matthews barely saw playing time at Kentucky before transferring to Michigan last year. Matthews erupted for 23 points in the exhibition and said afterwards he didn’t feel comfortable on the floor yet. When he does become comfortable he could be a big-time scorer for the Wolverines.
Duncan Robinson (G/F) – 12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
Over the past two seasons, Robinson has been a three-point specialist for Michigan. Recently, however, he has worked on his defense and driving ability to round out his skills. What was most encouraging from the exhibition was Robinson’s confidence to let the three fly. That was missing at times last year.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (F) – 11.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
Abdur-Rahkman has been a steady contributor over his four seasons for the maize and blue. His speed helps Michigan create fast break opportunities, and his shooting range always seems underrated. I expect his scoring to tick up once again.
Zavier Simpson (G) – 4.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.0 apg
Z got the starting nod in the exhibition game, but it’s not set in stone that he will lead the starters every night. He should be more than adequate at setting his teammates up and creating openings for his fellow starters.
Jaaron Simmons (G) – The graduate transfer from Ohio, Simmons will be a good scorer and distributor off the bench. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.5 assists for the Bobcats a season ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were starting games later in the year due to his experience.
Eli Brooks (G) – Along with Simpson and Simmons, Michigan will have a three-headed point guard committee. Coach Beilein raved that Brooks is one of those players who will pick up the college game quickly.
Jon Teske (C) – With DJ Wilson and Mark Donnal gone, Teske will be the first big off the bench. The game looked a bit too fast for him a season ago. He will need to make strides and grow comfortable to give Wagner rest.
Isaiah Livers (F) – Although he was kept off the score sheet against GVSU, Livers was hustling and defending with high energy the whole time he was on the floor. He could be an underrated glue-guy for Michigan.
Ibi Watson (G/F) – The primary backup for Matthews, Watson picked up two quick fouls early in their exhibition game. We didn’t get to see what improvement he has made, but Ibi should contribute meaningful buckets night in and out.
Austin Davis (F) – Davis redshirted a season ago and concentrated on building his body and game. Like Teske, he could be integral to giving Wagner rest or protecting him when foul trouble arises.
Jordan Poole (G) – He didn’t get as much playing time as the other freshman did last week. He may be too far down the depth chart at this point to garner more than occasional minutes for the Wolverines.
Guard, Luke Wilson, and forwards, Brent Hibbits, Naji Ozeir, and C.J. Baird round out the bench. I don’t expect any of them to earn meaningful minutes throughout the year. They will play integral team roles behind the scenes.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Michigan Basketball article is published, fill out our email notification form