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Three-Point Play: Michigan, 2020 rankings dilemma, ACC/Big Ten

Could Michigan possibly have hoped for more than they have gotten out of Juwan Howard? Are there any early rankings thoughts for 2020 after the start of the high school season? In today’s Three-Point-Play Eric Bossi looks at those topics and the game he is most intrigued by in this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

More: Which programs are feeling good after the Thanksgiving Hoopfest?

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position



Juwan Howard
Juwan Howard (AP Images)

Wow. Really, what more is there to say about the start that Juwan Howard is off to at Michigan as the Wolverines have climbed to No. 4 in the national polls? I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his start and I can’t imagine there is anybody who isn’t.

What he and the Wolverines did over Thanksgiving at the Battle 4 Atlantis was beyond impressive. Not only did Michigan beat Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga to string together three impressive wins while winning a title, the Wolverines steamrolled the opposition and looked much better than anybody else in the field.

Of course, Howard inherited a team with plenty of talent. But, he still had to coach them and the work he’s doing with guys like Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers, Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and company speaks volumes to who he is and what he can be as a coach.

Having already secured commitments from five-star Isaiah Todd and four-star Zeb Jackson on the recruiting trail, Howard is making noise there. I know that Todd hasn’t signed and the rumors will swirl all winter that he could head overseas. But, the job Howard is doing has to really be making Todd think.

The other big name out there is Hunter Dickinson. The Wolverines are thought to be the team to beat for him but for whatever reason he keeps putting off his decision. If the start in Ann Arbor can’t put them over the edge to land Dickinson, I don’t know what else it’s going to take.



Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes (Nick Lucero/

We won’t do our next update to the 2020 rankings until early to mid-January, but I’m already dreading the debates we’ll be having in the five-star realm. Actually, dreading isn’t the right word because Corey Evans, Dan McDonald and I are going to have some fun debates and the more I see the 2020 class, the stronger I feel it is. But putting these guys in an order that we can agree upon isn’t going to be easy.

I will say this: the top four of Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Terrence Clarke is one that I feel very good about. Save for Jonathan Kuminga reclassifying from 2021 into 2020, it’s going to take a really special senior season from anybody outside of those four to displace them because I feel they’ve got some separation from the pack.

The rest of the players in five-star territory, though, all bets are off. Going back to USA Basketball in mid-October, we’ve had the opportunity to see all but a few of the guys currently ranked as five-stars between Jalen Johnson at No. 5 and Earl Timberlake at No. 27. Let me tell you, the separation between them all is very thin.

For instance, I just got done watching Scottie Barnes (No. 9), B.J. Boston (No. 17), Bryce Thompson (No. 19), Caleb Love (No. 21) and Nimari Burnett (No. 23) and my thought for each was that they could all be slotted a few spots higher or at they least shouldn’t be dropping. But, then I see what others are doing who currently hold spots ahead of them and wonder to myself who is it that we can bump somebody ahead of?

We’re going to be on the road a ton over the next few weeks and I’m going to be real interested to see who makes the strongest case. The only thing that I can count on is that whatever changes we decide upon, they won’t be changes that were made easily and without serious consideration.


Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony (AP Images)

If we are going purely by rankings, then the Louisville and Michigan game tonight should be the game in this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge that most has my attention. After all, it will be a matchup between No. 1 and No. 4 with plenty of storylines. Can Howard and Michigan keep up their hot start? Can Jordan Nwora continue to light it up? Will Louisville’s highly anticipated freshman class start to break out? It’s a great matchup for sure.

But, personally, I’m a little more interested in seeing what happens when No. 6 Ohio State hosts No. 7 North Carolina on Wednesday night.

Ohio State is really intriguing to me. In their only matchup so far this season with a team currently in the top 25, they ran Villanova out of the gym. Also, they have a roster that should be mostly intact next season and I always enjoy seeing a team that is building towards a potential big run.

As for North Carolina, I want to see how the Tar Heels bounce back from their first loss to Michigan. They are highly ranked and freshman Cole Anthony -- who I’m looking forward to seeing against classmate D.J. Carton of Ohio State -- has put up big numbers (despite not shooting it particularly well) but who can help him out? Big men Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot have been pretty good so far but other than senior Brandon Robinson, nobody has stepped up on the perimeter. Can Robinson continue to play his best ball? Does he have another level he can reach and which other guard is going to become more reliable?

Anyway, matchups like this between power conferences always provide for great games and this week should tell us a lot about the futures of many teams in 2019-20.