Thursday, October 17, 2013

Michigan basketball No. 9 in USA Today Coaches Poll

The Wolverines hit the hardwood again on Oct. 29 for an exhibition game against Concordia. Michigan will enter that game with a shiny No. 9 ranking, per today's release of the USA Today Coaches Poll.

In a moderately weird coincidence, Florida, Syracuse and Kansas--three teams Michigan beat in the tournament--sit right ahead of Michigan in succession. Preseason basketball polls might mean even less than their football counterpart, but I just thought that was an amusing coincidence (and that is no commentary on its accuracy).

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Ohio State checks in at No. 10, Bo Ryan's Badgers at No. 21 and the Hoosiers at No. 24. The conference doesn't appear to be as strong as it was last season, but it should still be one of the most difficult leagues in the country once again.

Kentucky nabbed the top spot in the rankings, with Michigan State at No. 2. Louisville, Duke and Arizona round out the top 5. Michigan takes on Sean Miller's Arizona squad on Dec. 14 at the Crisler Center. Of course, Michigan will also travel to Durham to take on Duke at Cameron Indoor for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Dec. 4.

The nonconference schedule is formidable, and the Wolverines will once again be breaking in a freshman point guard. Nonetheless, those games against Duke, Arizona, Florida State/VCU and possibly even the trip to Iowa State will certainly help the freshmen get into the swing of things. I'm not sure any of those games will prepare Walton et al for what they'll see in the Big Ten, but the level of competition will be high.

If you're expecting another 16-0 start, you're likely to be disappointed. However, it should be another exciting season of basketball in Ann Arbor and Big Ten country as a whole. Football is king, yes, but basketball is not too far behind these days.

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