Every Thursday, Mike, Tom and Chantel discuss three pertinent issues in Michigan sports in the weekly Roundtable. This week, they look at football captains, basketball matchups and 2013 recruiting class rankings.
1. The Michigan football team will vote on team captains at the end of fall camp this year. Who do you think gets the three spots? Who's the first guy left out?
Tom VanHaaren: Denard Robinson, Jordan Kovacs and the third one is tough, but I'm going to go with Craig Roh. I say Roy Roundtree is probably the first guy left out, or I could see that flipping with Roh. I think those guys are the vocal leaders, and all have a good shot at being captains for their senior season.
Michael Rothstein: Two of these I think are no-brainers. I'd be floored if Robinson and Kovacs weren’t named captains for this team. They are the emotional cores of Michigan's offense and defense. I'd actually be surprised if it wasn't somewhat close to unanimous on both of those (although I doubt we'll ever find out the tallies). After that it gets a bit murkier. Brady Hoke is going to want one of the captains to be on the line, and I'll go with Roh there. He's a four-year starter, played three positions and a high-character guy. As for who is the first guy out...I'm going to go with somewhat of a surprise and say Elliott Mealer. Not because of anything he's done on the field, but rather what he's been through, how he's handled himself and that he seems to be a pretty big team-player type of guy. I think people will respect that, but I don't know if it'll be enough for him to pick up enough captaincy votes.
Chantel Jennings: I’m going to agree with the masses -- Kovacs and Robinson should be two of the captains. The third spot, again, will probably go to a lineman. I think Roh and Mealer are both pretty good options. My guess is that it comes down to those four, but Mealer is the first man out. He’ll be the Ryan Van Bergen of last year (literally
there were times when I completely forgot he wasn’t a captain, just because of how his teammates treated him and how he carried himself).
2. Michigan is the defending Big Ten Champion for basketball. With its strong recruiting class, the Wolverines are projected at or near the top of the league again. Which team will Michigan struggle the most with?
TV: The obvious answer is Indiana, because I think everyone is going to struggle with them. They're loaded, and it just seems like they are going to be a force next year not just within the Big Ten, but in the tournament as well.
MR: The easy answer here is Indiana as the Hoosiers are the best team in the league and have a great big man in Cody Zeller and a matchup nightmare in Christian Watford. However, I'm going with somewhat of a surprise -- Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are going to be sneaky good next year, led by Trevor Mbakwe. Michigan, even though it'll have a lot more size, has no one who can handle Mbawke. Rodney Williams will still be more athletic than any player Michigan has and Andre Hollins has a chance to be one of the top point guards in the Big Ten. I just don't think the Gophers will be a good matchup for the Wolverines.
CJ: I think Indiana and Minnesota will both be tough for the Wolverines, but let’s not forget about Ohio State and Michigan State. No matter who is on those teams or what the records are, those always seem to be the hardest fought games for the Wolverines. I really respect Tom Izzo and Thad Matta as coaches. They produce players, even if the talent level on their rosters doesn’t say they should. Indiana and Minnesota will be tough, but don’t forget about MSU and OSU.
3. Michigan looks to be leading the race to the best 2013 recruiting class in the country. Which team has the best chance to surpass Michigan between now and signing day?
TV: The most logical teams are Florida, Texas or Alabama based off of numbers and past success. Michigan doesn't have any five-star commits, so once some of those five- stars come off the board, depending on where they go, Michigan could get knocked out of that top spot. That shouldn't be anything negative for the Michigan fans though, because this class is ridiculous from top to bottom. Looking at the targets left for Michigan, it only has a chance to get better from here, too.
MR: Texas A&M has had a good start, but never ever count out Nick Saban and Alabama. The Crimson Tide will be in the recruiting race until the end and are in play for a bunch of the top names left on the board. Michigan has a good start but I figure Alabama, USC, Ohio State, Florida and Auburn to all make strong pushes at the end to overtake the Wolverines. But personally, the Crimson Tide have the best shot.
CJ: I think if classes are close, a lot of it will come down to how many five stars are in each recruiting class. The Wolverines have a shot with Shane Morris, but past that, I just don’t know. My best bet would be Alabama or Texas moving past the Wolverines, especially if Shane Morris (or anyone else) can’t pick up a fifth star.