If a program's ultimate success is measured in terms of NCAA wins, it's time for Michigan to make a move into the tournament's second weekend. And for the first time in Beilein's tenure, the Wolverines may be in a good position to do that. A highly-regarded recruiting class, the decision by guard Trey Burke to return for his sophomore season and a level of depth Michigan hasn't enjoyed in a long time should combine to make the Wolverines dangerous.
Beilein teams haven't been known for their rough-and-tumble frontlines, but this year's squad has plenty of options in the paint. If they want to play big and nasty, redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt, sophomore Jon Horford and junior Jordan Morgan can bring the beef.
If they want to play a little more of a finesse game, then 6-foot-10 Mitch McGary, a fine passer and shooter from the high and low post, can team with fellow newcomer Glen Robinson III to form a dynamic combination.
Returning to the Wolverines is Burke, a high-energy floor leade who averaged 14.8 points and 4.6 assists last season. Burke will be joined by point guard Spike Albrecht, a 6-1 dynamo whom Beilein believes will be an instant fan favorite and who should allow Burke to rest.
The other big backcourt returnee is junior Tim Hardaway Jr., who has great skill but must moderate his approach. He shot just 28.3 from three-point range last year and didn't always play great defense. Hardaway has plenty of talent, and the addition of Robinson, McGary and Spike Albrecht means he doesn't have to do as much.
Glenn Robinson III has the skill and size to be a productive wing right away and a standout down the road. Mitch McGary brings great skill to the pivot and should be able to step out and hit some jumpers when things get too crowded. Spike Albrecht won't be an all-conference player, but his energy and ability to run a team will take pressure off Burke. Nik Stauskas lacks strength and great skill, but he can hit the three.
The Wolverines should be an improved team that can certainly reach the NCAA tournament's second weekend. Burke has great potential and Hardaway can be a big factor if he plays within himself. The freshman class is talented and Michigan should be deeper all over the floor. The loss to Ohio in last year's NCAA tournament was tough, but the future is bright.