Isaiah Livers and Josh Christopher could give the Michigan Wolverines' basketball team the Big Ten's best starting 5.
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Is Michigan In Position To Have The Big Ten's Best Starting 5 Next Season?

Fans of the Michigan Wolverines' basketball team have been introduced in recent weeks to what could be an exciting reality next season — a Maize and Blue roster that contains both forward Isaiah Livers and Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair five-star shooting guard Josh Christopher on it.

The latter is expected to choose between Michigan and Arizona State in the coming weeks, while the former will decide if he wants to return to Ann Arbor for his senior season or leave early for the NBA draft.

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Michigan Wolverines basketball's Franz Wagner (left) and Isaiah Livers
Michigan Wolverines basketball guard Franz Wagner averaged 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds this past season as a freshman. (Per Kjeldsen)

If the dominoes fall in Michigan's favor and both Livers and Christopher are Wolverines next season (which is a very real possibility), it would give head coach Juwan Howard arguably the Big Ten's most talented starting five.

Throw rising sophomore guard Franz Wagner into the mix, along with either junior-to-be David DeJulius or rising senior Eli Brooks at point guard, and a center (rising junior Colin Castleton, rising fifth-year senior Austin Davis and freshman-to-be Hunter Dickinson seem to be the top candidates), and it's difficult to find an opposing Big Ten starting five that tops the Maize and Blue's.

It's also important to note, however, that rosters all around the conference are currently in flux, most notably in regards to players leaving early for the NBA draft.

Though more underclassmen around the league are bound to transfer and declare early for the draft in the coming months, we have projected what we expect each Big Ten starting lineup to look like come November.

We have not made any outlandish predictions around the league, but instead have made a few informed guesses on the players we expect to leave early.

With that in mind, we have projected Michigan's starting lineup to look like this come next season's opener (with the assumption that Christopher and Livers will both be on the team):

Eli Brooks (senior)

Josh Christopher (freshman)

Franz Wagner (sophomore)

Isaiah Livers (senior)

Austin Davis (fifth-year senior)

Below are the 13 other projected starting lineups around the conference, with Michigan's appearing to be either on par or better than all of them.

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Illinois

• Trent Frazier (senior)

• Adam Miller (freshman)

• Da'Monte Williams (senior)

• Giorgi Bezhanishvili (junior)

• Kofi Cockburn (sophomore)

*Note: We are projecting sophomore guard Ayo Dosonmu to depart early for the NBA draft

Indiana

• Robert Phinisee (junior)

• Al Durham (senior)

• Jerome Hunter (redshirt sophomore)

• Justin Smith (senior)

• Joey Brunk (fifth-year senior)

*Note: We have pegged freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis as an early departure for the NBA draft

Iowa

• Jordan Bohannon (fifth-year senior)

• Connor McCaffery (redshirt junior)

• C.J. Fredrick (redshirt sophomore)

• Joe Wieskamp (junior)

• Jack Nunge (redshirt junior)

*Note: We are projecting junior center Luka Garza to depart for the NBA draft

Maryland

• Eric Ayala (junior)

• Darryl Morsell (senior)

• Aaron Wiggins (junior)

• Donta Scott (sophomore)

• Chol Marial (sophomore)

*Note: We are assuming sophomore big man Jalen Smith will depart for the NBA draft

Michigan State

• Rocket Watts (sophomore)

• Josh Langford (fifth-year senior)

• Aaron Henry (junior)

• Joey Hauser (redshirt sophomore)

• Marcus Bingham (junior)

*Note: We are projecting junior big man Xavier Tillman to remain in the NBA draft, and for senior guard Josh Langford to return next year as a fifth-year senior after missing the 2019-20 campaign with injury

Minnesota

• Marcus Carr (redshirt junior)

• Gabe Kalscheur (junior)

• Payton Willis (fifth-year senior)

• Eric Curry (fifth-year senior)

• Sam Freeman (sophomore)

*Note: Sophomore center Daniel Oturu has entered his name into the NBA draft and plans to remain in it

Nebraska

Kobe Webster (senior)

• Jervay Green (senior)

• Thorir Thorbjarnarson (senior)

• Shamiel Stevenson (redshirt junior)

• Yvan Ouedraogo (sophomore)

*Note: Redshirt sophomore guard Cam Mack and redshirt junior guard Dachon Burke are not expected to return to the team next season

Northwestern

• Anthony Gaines (either a redshirt junior or a senior, depending on whether or not he receives a medical redshirt for this past season)

• Boo Buie (sophomore)

• Miller Kopp (junior)

• Pete Nance (junior)

• Ryan Young (redshirt sophomore)

Ohio State

• C.J. Walker (fifth-year senior)

• Duane Washington (junior)

• Seth Towns (redshirt junior)

• Justice Sueing (redshirt junior)

• Kyle Young (senior)

*Note: We are projecting junior center Kaleb Wesson to leave early for the NBA

Penn State

• Jamari Wheeler (senior)

• Myles Dread (junior)

• Myreon Jones (junior)

• Seth Lundy (sophomore)

• John Harrar (senior)

Purdue

• Eric Hunter (junior)

• Sasha Stefanovic (redshirt junior)

• Nojel Eastern (senior)

• Aaron Wheeler (redshirt junior)

• Trevion Williams (junior)

Rutgers

• Geo Baker (senior)

• Montez Mathis (junior)

• Caleb McConnell (junior)

• Ron Harper (junior)

• Myles Johnson (redshirt junior)

Wisconsin

• D'Mitrik Trice (fifth-year senior)

• Brad Davison (senior)

• Aleem Ford (fifth-year senior)

• Micah Potter (fifth-year senior)

• Nate Reuvers (senior)

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