Michigan hosts Youngstown State at the Crisler Center this evening (6:30 p.m., BTN) for another tricky test against one of the more interesting mid-major programs in the country.
The Penguins are coming off one of the best seasons in program history, finishing 131st in KenPom and winning 24 games. They fell short of the NCAA Tournament but won the Horizon League regular season title and bowed out of the NIT against Oklahoma State.
Youngstown State has also become a program emblematic of college basketball in 2023.
Jerrod Calhoun has reinvented his program with a combination of the transfer portal and investment in name, image, and likeness infrastructure. The Penguins were forced to completely re-tool their roster this offseason, bringing in 11 new players, but they were able to do that in a way that wasn’t possible for a mid-major school a decade ago.
The result is a group that isn’t short on talent or experience, especially for the Horizon League level, but might take some time to mesh. Calhoun’s masterpiece is the 13th oldest team in the country, according to him, and features players from 11 states and one foreign country with former stops at schools like Northern Kentucky, Murray State, Florida A&M, Merrimack, Toledo, and Tennessee Tech.
The Penguins lost their opener at Louisiana on Monday night, but their best basketball is likely ahead of them.