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Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Michigan basketball program ranked No. 13 in ESPN's top '50 in 50' years list

By Nick Baumgardner

Despite forfeited wins, removed banners and a terrible dry spell, the Michigan basketball program still ranks among the nation's elite over the past 50 years. ranked Michigan No. 13 in its recent "50 in 50" series, a point-system based measurement that rates the top 50 college basketball programs over the past 50 years.


Glen Rice and Rumeal Robinson's role in Michigan's 1989 national title helped rank Michigan No. 13 on ESPN's recent top 50 programs in the past 50 years list. file photo

ESPN's system rewarded programs points for conference championships, conference tournament titles, win percentage, high NCAA Tournament seeds, tournament advancements, Final Four bids and national championships.

It also gave bonus points for First-Team All-Americans and top-10 NBA draft choices.

Michigan finished with 360 points in ESPN's system, highlighted by its 1989 national titles, five Final Fours since 1962, 12 regular-season Big Ten titles, 13 All-Americans and 10 high NBA selections.

It was penalized as well. Michigan lost a total of 16 points for vacated victories stemming from the Ed Martin scandal, and also was hurt by its stretch of zero NCAA Tournament bids from 1999-2008.

ESPN also offered up a top five starting lineup for the Wolverines since 1962, featuring point guard Gary Grant, off-guard Cazzie Russell, forward Glen Rice, forward Chris Webber and center Rudy Tomjanovich.

Per ESPN's list, Michigan finished higher than the likes of Ohio State, UNLV, Villanova, Purdue, Arkansas, Illinois and Florida.

Despite all the sanctions and forfeited wins, Michigan finished just two spots behind Michigan State -- who ranked at No. 11.

The ranking also posed a question. Which Michigan basketball team in the past 50 years goes down as the program's best?

The 1989 championship team? The 1993 Fab Five 31-5 squad? The 1965 Final Four team? None of the above?

Let the debate begin.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.

That's actually 13 Big Ten Championships. :)

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

I like #11. Go Green!!!

Blue Marker

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

Higher than I would have expected. The first game I saw at Crisler featured Ricky Green. Man, what a fro!


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

I got to go with 1976 or 1989 as the greatest teams in my lifetime. Oh, and of course MSU is a more storied team, they had Magic and Kelser after all.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

hold on. We trademarked the word "storied." No one else in the state is allowed to use it.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

No mention they finished behind Michigan State. So, here is that mention.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 5:49 a.m.

@Nick. Robot probably only reads two things: the headline and the comments.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

Thank you Tree...I'll write slower from now on :-) I'm betting there might be 1 or 2 SEC teams ahead of um and MSU once the entire list is published...go Wildcats!

Blue Marker

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

I should of know it was some kind of shot. I'll tell you who didn't make the list....LSU. That's the best I could come up with, sorry.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

I think when he said Ohio he meant the Bobcats, at least that is what I think of when someone says Ohio in this context

Blue Marker

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

OSU came in at #15. FYI


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

Was Ohio ranked?

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Ah, but I did mention it, robot. Michigan State finished No. 11.