juwan howard

Early Odds Project Wolverines As NCAA Men’s Hoops Contenders

Michigan basketball is clearly in a good place these days with Juwan Howard in charge. The former Fab Five member has the Wolverines program in line as not just one of the Big Ten’s best, but a team to be reckoned with nationally.

Even after an inconsistent 2021-22 season in which the Wolverines finished 19-15 overall, an up-and-down year that included Howard serving a five-game suspension for hitting a Wisconsin coach, Michigan is trending favorably looking ahead to the 2022-23 campaign. In their way-early releases of odds for next season, sportsbooks are projecting the Wolverines to be among the favorites to contend for the national title.

DraftKings has odds of +1500, or sixth-shortest odds overall, on the Wolverines winning the 2022-23 national championship. BetRivers has odds of +2000 on Michigan going all the way, while FanDuel is offering odds of +2800 on the Wolverines.

FanDuel considers Houston the early favorite to win the title and has odds of +950 on the Cougars, while BetRivers and DraftKings favor North Carolina at odds of +1000. FanDuel also has odds of +1200 on “Blue Bloods” Kentucky and North Carolina and odds of +1300 on Duke winning it all in the team’s first season following legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement.

Not lacking in returning talent

Howard will have a good mix of veterans and talented newcomers to work with in his fourth season serving as the Wolverines’ head coach.

Hunter Dickinson, a 7-1 center who earned All-American honors last season, figures as the top returner. Dickinson led the way a year ago with team highs of 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. His return is key to the Wolverines contending in the Big Ten and nationally.

‘Now that the dust has settled on (Hunter Dickinson)’s decision process, the role of name, image and likeness deals can be distinguished.’@lindsaybudinn on the star @umichbball center’s calculus: https://t.co/2KRuRFERHS

— Michigan Daily Sports (@theblockm) May 12, 2022

Gone are Eli Brooks (12.8 ppg) and DeVante’ Jones (10.3 ppg). Plenty will depend on what happens with 6-8 guard-forward Caleb Houstan (10.1 ppg) and 6-11 post player Moussa Diabate (9.0 ppg), who are entertaining the idea of leaving Michigan and becoming eligible for the NBA Draft. They have until June 1 to decide if they’ll declare for the draft.

Kobe Bufkin, a McDonald’s All-American, is a versatile backcourt player who figures to compete for more playing time after accounting for only 3.0 points per game last season. Terrance Williams (4.7 ppg) and Isaiah Barnes, a redshirt last year, offer depth in the frontcourt.

Moving into the mix

Jaelin Llewellyn, a former Princeton standout who averaged 15.7 points and shot nearly 40% from 3-point territory last year, transferred to Michigan and is expected to step in and make his presence felt in the backcourt.

Also, Michigan’s four incoming freshmen are each rated as four stars and rank as the 10th-best recruiting class, according to 247sports. Tarris Reed, Jett Howard, Dug McDaniel, and Gregg Glenn could play a role in the Wolverines making a deep March Madness run.

In Howard’s first year as Wolverines coach in 2019-20, Michigan finished 19-12 overall before COVID-19 concerns forced the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines came right back the next season (2020-21) and rolled to a 23-5 overall showing that included finishing first in the Big Ten regular season with a 14-3 conference showing. Michigan went on to advance to the Elite Eight of March Madness, and Howard earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for the 2020-21 season.

And if the oddsmakers are on target, Howard’s fourth season could end up as the most memorable yet in his coaching tenure at his alma mater. 

Photo: Ryan Garza/USA TODAY

Author: Bradley King