So they effectively took last year's Final Four, removed the team that lost five of their last seven, and tossed in an 8-seed that was the pre-season #1. There you go...that's your midwest bracket.
I wasn't sure what I wanted from the Big Ten Tournament, but I'm pretty sure that the scenarios I had put together in my head didn't include one this shitty. I figured the consolation prize for losing to the pre-crowned 2014 National Champion Michigan State Spartans was that we were going to get to be the 2-seed in the Wichita State region. Somehow that would make everything ok. But then we got saddled with the best 3-seed in the tournament in Duke, and the egregiously mis-seeded Louisville at the 4.
But the 2013-14 Michigan Wolverines are miracle workers. I've said many times this season, I just don't know how they do it when they do it. We do not pass the eye test. We don't look like champions. But that's exactly what we are. That horrible game we sat through on Sunday afternoon? That's what I have been expecting nearly every time we've taken the floor. But Sunday was an aberration. Winning...and winning often...that is the norm, that is the reality of this team. We ran away with the title from a league considered to be one of the best. Without Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway, without Mitch McGary, they somehow became, in many ways, better. You don't have to understand it for it to be true.
But that's over now. This is not the season, this is the tournament. Different circumstances, different motivations, different level of experience. Last year at tournament time, Mitch McGary became the Mitch McGary we expected when he arrived on campus. His overnight improvement, which we now know was the direct result of coaching (HT:mgoblog), led this team to a place we never dreamed it could get to so quickly. I mean, it took so long, but happened so fast...does that make sense? Anyway, we sit here on the eve of Michigan's fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, bad taste in our mouths at the hands of the nation's tournament pool darling, and I wonder...what is John Belein working on tonight? What repetitive drill is he going over? What weakness is he remedying? Nobody anywhere does more with less...nobody.
I've apologized through my television to Jordan Morgan and Caris Levert many times this year. I'm sure I'll owe Bielfelt and Horford a few before their careers are over. Players improve here. Non-factors become factors. Quiet guys become leaders. This is a model program.
The only way I could be prouder is if this was football.
- UMHoops - First Look: Wofford
- Maize and Go Blue - Examining Michigan's Path...
- Detroit News - Memories of upset by Ohio two years ago keeps Michigan on toes
- Bleacher Report - Analyzing Wolverines' Path to a Second Straight Final Four