U-M could be tough in 2013-14

It hurts this Michigan State University alum to say this, but here it goes:

Depending how many University of Michigan basketball players leave for the NBA, the Wolverines could reach the national Final Four again next season.

That’s a fact that’s hard to swallow, especially since head coach Tom Izzo’s MSU squad should also be strong. Enough so the Spartans could challenge Michigan and other teams for a Final Four berth.

But the Wolverines, who lost the NCAA championship game in the final seconds to Louisville, 82-76, are young and extremely talented.

Guard Trey Burke, the Associated Press Player of the Year and likely to turn pro today, is just a sophomore. He averaged a team-leading 18.6 points and recorded a team-high 260 assists.

Michigan’s second-leading scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.5) is a junior. But he, too, is likely to test the NBA waters.

Still, guard Nik Stauskas and forward Glenn Robinson III, who each tossed in 11 points per game, are freshmen.

And center Mitch McGary, who turned in an impressive tournament run, is also a first-year player.

Add to that lineup freshman guard Spike Albrecht and freshman guard Cris LeVert – who played some valuable minutes in the Wolverines’ tourney run – and you have a potentially strong team.

Strong enough to challenge for the Big Ten title and make another long NCAA tournament run, perhaps even strong enough without Burke and Hardaway Jr.

If Robinson and McGary also decide to leave, the Wolverines’ title chances would be reduced dramatically, of course, even with the addition of standout recruits Derrick Walton, Jr. and Zak Irvin – both guards.

A lot of things could happen next season, too, to derail U-M’s march to another banner season.

A key player or two could get hurt, a missed shot or free throw attempt could cost a win and-or failure to gobble up a key rebound could end the Wolverines’ 2013-14 season prematurely.

So could a bad call by an official at a crucial point of a game. We saw plenty of bad calls on both teams in the Louisville-Michigan final.

But depending on the lineup head coach John Beilein puts on the hardwood next season, the Wolverines could put forth another banner campaign.

Perhaps they might even hoist the NCAA championship trophy.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net.