I don’t expect Zak to turn into Buddy Hield next season, but if you look, Hield is averaging 8 points more per game as a senior and shooting 8% better from 3 than he ever did before. I don’t expect Michigan to reach the Final Four like Nova and Oklahoma, who were farther along last year, but it’s worth noting that they had a lot of the same players two years ago when they were upset in the first round and had a kenpom defense in the 90s.
Increased success for upperclassmen is often true for groups that don’t have quite as much success. Looking at Iowa, they’ve had a core of Gesell, Woodbury, Uthoff, Aaron White, etc., and two years ago they had Roy Devyn Marble, arguably better than any of them, perhaps equal with Uthoff, and they went 9-9 in the B1G. The next year they lost RDM and went 12-6 as the core became upperclassmen, then lost White and went 12-6 again.
So I don’t expect Irvin or Walton to be All-Americans next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both had much better years than this year, particularly as Irvin had offseason back surgery and Walton missed much of last year. And when looking at the group of upperclassmen-to-be, Irvin, Walton, Donnal, Robinson, MAAR, Chatman, Dawkins, and Doyle (or whatever contingent of that group is still there next year), I think there’s a good chance we’ll a significantly more successful version of that group, along with contributions from Wagner and Simpson and others, of course.