Michigan basketball had an amazing run last season.
The Wolverines made it all the way to the national championship game against Villanova, and while the team fell short of its ultimate goal, only one other college basketball team made it as far as John Beilein’s group did. For 2018-19, Michigan will not sneak up on anybody.
And, its non-conference schedule may be speaking to that. Andy Katz, of ncaa.com, ranked on Thursday his top 20 conference challenge matchups to look for this upcoming season.
Michigan is playing in two of his top five games. The first ranks No. 3 on his list:
Michigan at Villanova, Gavitt Games, Nov. 14: “Everyone loves a rematch of a national title game,” Katz said. “Neither team will look anything like they did in April in San Antonio. Both will need time to develop and reach their potential. But there is still some star power returning with Charles Matthews and Phil Booth back, respectively, for Michigan and Nova.”
And at No. 5 on his list:
North Carolina at Michigan, ACC-Big Ten Challenge, Nov. 28: “The Wolverines will have already gone through the Villanova test before hosting the Tar Heels,” Katz said. “This will be a great opportunity for North Carolina freshman stud Nassir Little to see how he handles being a focus of an elite coach’s opposing team’s scout. Both schools won’t have to worry about power-rating points. This is just another great game for both.”
Both games will be intriguing. Nobody can dispute that.
Having a rematch of the national championship game is always interesting to see, even if the players aren’t exactly the same as they were a season ago. And when the Wolverines meet the Tar Heels, well, it’s the Tar Heels. North Carolina is bound to be good once again and are a national brand.
If there are must-watch games going on in the non-conference portion of the schedule, these matchups are it.