U-M Basketball: Lucky As Hell!!
Yesterday, I wrote about Michigan State basketball's seed and draw in the upcoming NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Today, I'm writing about Michigan's seed and draw. As well as their chances in the tournament. They open on Thursday afternoon against Colorado State in Indianapolis.
THE TITLE SAYS IT ALL
For people who complain that Michigan gets preferential treatment from the NCAA. Well, they have a case this time. The Wolverines are very lucky to be in the tournament after last Thursday's choke job to an inferior Indiana team in the Big Ten Tournament. That loss put them at 17-14 overall (the worst record among all at-large teams in the Big Dance) and they sweated it out on Sunday.
I figured, best case scenario, that they would be in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Worst case, they'd be hosting an NIT game this week. Not only did they get in the tournament, they avoided the First Four in Dayton. They got the 11 seed in the South Region. AND they got a winnable game in the first round against Colorado State. AND they only have to travel four hours to Indianapolis for Round 1. Yes, they got the Notre Dame treatment this year.
YES, THEY GOT LUCKY, BUT...
Even though they had bad losses to Minnesota, Central Florida, and the aforementioned loss to Indiana. They have plenty of good wins, especially in conference. Plus a very good strength of schedule. They beat San Diego State at home in December (an underrated win as the Aztecs are in the tournament). They also won at red-hot Iowa and Indiana. And they split with Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Purdue. All those wins are why they're in the field.
INCONSISTENCY IS THE NAME OF THEIR GAME
There are times that Michigan has looked like world-beaters (see the Purdue and Michigan State games in Ann Arbor), and there are other times (too many to mention) where they look terrible. Sometimes it 's happened in the same game this year.
IT STARTS WITH POINT GUARD PLAY
After some early struggles, senior Devante Jones has stabilized the position to a degree. He was terrific against Ohio State to finish the regular season. And he is a key if the Wolverines want to make a run.. But when you talk about Michigan basketball, you have to mention...
The sophomore center plays with a edge, and because of it, he's become a villain throughout Big Ten country. He likes to talk trash (that's part of the deal, most players do that), but he should probably lay off talking noise to Tom Izzo (which he did in Michigan's win in the second game vs. MSU). That's stuff that happens in the NBA, not in college. Not necessary, IMO.
But if Michigan wants to get out of the first round, he'll have to be in top form. We'll see about that.
HEAD COACH JUWAN HOWARD
Coach Howard (pictured above) has to show that he can get it done in the tournament. They lost to an inferior UCLA team in the Elite Eight last season, and Howard didn't have the ball in the right guy's hands at the end of that game. That was a lost opportunity that haunts them. Expectations aren't high for them as an 11 seed this season. Getting this team to the Sweet 16 would help his coaching reputation, given his 5-game suspension this season for slapping a Wisconsin assistant coach.
The Wolverines can redeem themselves if they beat Colorado State, and a victory over (presumably) Tennessee in Round 2 would be a bonus. But they're also goofy enough to stink the joint out and lose by ten or 20 in the first round. They play Colorado State in Round 1 at 12:15pm on Thursday.