The 24th-ranked Michigan Wolverines are set to tip off the 2014-15 season at the Crisler Center on Saturday afternoon in a clash with the Hillsdale Chargers.
Hillsdale is a member of Division II's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). Last season the Chargers were one of the conference's best, going 18-9 with a 14-9 mark in league play.
Michigan had yet another outstanding run a season ago, as it finished up 28-9 overall and 15-3 in the Big Ten Conference while falling a game shy of its second straight Final Four appearance, as it lost to Kentucky in the Elite Eight, 75-72. Expectations are still high for John Beilein's Wolverines, who have gone to four straight NCAA Tournaments, although they'll need to overcome the loss of stars Nik Stauskas (17.5 ppg), Glenn Robinson III (13.1 ppg) and Mitch McGary (9.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg).
The teams met just once before way back in 1920, with Michigan winning the low-scoring affair, 22-18.
Hillsdale will have the unfortunate task of replacing the best player in program history in Tim Dezelski (22.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.4 bpg). Kyle Cooper (13.5 ppg) will likely shoulder the majority of the scoring load. The Chargers have four juniors and two seniors with extended playing experience, but only Cooper averaged more than 4.3 ppg a season ago.
The Wolverines were one of the nation's most well balanced teams during the 2013-14 campaign, scoring 75.0 ppg while allowing just 65.1 ppg, but it'll be interesting to see how the team shakes out this time around having to replace so much production. Caris LaVert (12.9 ppg, 2.9 apg) played very well last season and will be expected to take a leap into the nation's elite as the go- to scorer, and if he can continue to knock down a high percentage of 3- pointers (.408) with a higher volume a shots, that goal will be within reach. The team has a number of former role players that will see an increase in minutes, including Derrick Walton, Jr. (7.9 ppg, 2.9 apg), Zak Irvin (6.7 ppg), Jordan Morgan (6.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Spike Albrecht (3.3 ppg, 2.0 apg). The program also welcomes aboard a trio of intriguing freshmen - Kameron Chatman (6-7, 210), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (6-4, 175) and Aubrey Dawkins (6-6, 190).