WolverineNation Mailbag

Michigan needs to exceed NCAA expecations to prove it belongs with OSU and MSU. Getty Images/US Presswire/US Presswire

Michigan has its men's basketball team in the NCAA tournament, its women's team in the NCAA tournament, its hockey team in the CCHA tournament, and spring football is right around the corner.

And on top of that, St. Patrick's Day is on Saturday and the sun has come out of hibernation in Ann Arbor. What more could anyone ask for?

Oh, a WolverineNation mailbag? Well, I've got you covered.

Next week, Michael Rothstein will be covering the mailbag, so if you have any questions send them to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or tweet him @mikerothstein.

Aaron, Chelsea, Michigan: How deep into the tournament does Michigan need to advance to support the notion that we are truly closing the gap in-state and with the upper crust of the B1G?

CJ: People have said that it's a fluke the Wolverines won a share of the Big Ten title just because Ohio State and Michigan State are so far ahead of the Wolverines. Honestly, for that notion to be broken, I think Michigan needs to make it further than it's supposed to, i.e. the Elite Eight. The Wolverines, if they play as they can, should beat Ohio and Temple (presumably). If they lose to North Carolina (presumably), they make it as far as they should. If they beat UNC, they exceed expectations and move one step closer to the MSUs and OSUs of the league.

Kyle, Bloomfield Hills: I know this is kind of far in advance but what is the most troubling part about the Bama game next season?

CJ: Hmm. Most troubling? The most troubling part is that there are so many aspects of Alabama's game that will give the Wolverines trouble. There is no one part that will make or break the game for Michigan. Alabama is very, very good. Michigan is still working up to that.

For starters, its defense is fantastic. It allowed onlyeight points per game last season, and in the national championship game the Crimson Tide held LSU (a team that averaged 36 points per game) scoreless. And then there's the offense, which also is really good. It averaged 35 points and 430 yards per game. Not too shabby. And it scored 88 percent of the time it got into the red zone. That’s nice, too.

That being said, Alabama lost running back Trent Richardson, who gave the Tide 155 yards of offense per game, so it'll be transitioning a bit. Key words: a bit.

Andrew B., Chicago: Can we expect Michigan to continue this recruiting boom in the next few years of the Hoke era?

CJ: The coaching staff had a great start with the 2012 and 2013 classes. And the fact it has been working through the 2013 recruiting class so quickly means that it has been able to evaluate prospects in the 2014 and 2015 classes. It'll have more time to build relationships with recruits and in turn, get ahead on those classes as well. They're genuine in their pitch, which has made the targets and their families feel comfortable very quickly. For some reason, the staff oozes a family atmosphere at Michigan, which has made parents incredibly comfortable with allowing their sons to commit there early. Those are a few factors in the equation, but this staff has found a winning method and I think it should continue.