Michigan basketball team watches selection show in peace, eyes deep tourney run
This year, there were no nervous moments, no chewed finger nails and no stomach pains.
In fact, the most interesting moment from the Michigan basketball team's "Selection Sunday" get together came from assistant coach Bacari Alexander's son, Mekhi.
"When our name got called, BA's son, Mekhi, snuck his head in (the CBS camera shot)," Michigan senior co-captain Zack Novak said. "So we all kind of lost it at that.
"That was maybe more entertaining than seeing our name come up."
A year ago, the Wolverines anxiously sat on the bubble, wondering whether their resume was enough to earn a spot in the tournament.
The situation was the same two years prior, when Michigan was forced to wait until the closing minutes of the tournament selection show to finally see their name flash up on the screen.
On Sunday, the Wolverines already knew.
Michigan finished the season 24-9, earned a share of its first Big Ten championship in 26 years, held an RPI inside the top 15 and spent the entire season ranked among the top 25.
So, on Sunday, watching the selection show privately with family and friends inside the new William Davidson Player Development Center, it wasn't a matter of if. It was who, when and where.
"We already knew, we had a sense where we'd be, a four seed or a three seed, somewhere in there," Michigan sophomore wing Tim Hardaway Jr. said. "The attitude was kind of different, compared to last year when we were glad to get back after a disappointing season from before.
"This time around, everybody knew what to expect."
And now, what the Wolverines expect is more.
In their past two NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wolverines won a game, but went no further.
Michigan hasn't advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since the 1994 team, led by Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson fell to Arkansas in the Elite Eight.
The Wolverines dropped first round games in 1995 (to Western Kentucky) and 1996 (to Texas), and, as a No. 3 seed in 1998, were bumped in the second round by No. 6 UCLA.
In 2009 and 2011, Michigan scored tournament-opening wins over Clemson and Tennessee, respectively, but immediately fell to higher-seeded Oklahoma ('09) and Duke ('11).
This time around, Michigan has its highest seed in 14 years and the best tournament positioning of John Beilein's coaching career.
After losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals Saturday, Novak and freshman point guard Trey Burke were very clear about the team's intentions this time around.
They expected to be here, and now, they expect to make some serious noise.
"Our biggest goal was to win the national championship," Burke said. "I know this team is capable of doing it if we execute our principles.
"We can beat any team in the country."
The end goal may be higher, but Beilein says Michigan has to approach this week the same way it did a year ago, and the same way it did in 2009.
One day at a time, one step at a time, one foot at a time.
"We took baby steps to get where we are, it took five years, and we're not going to change that plan," Beilein said. "There will be baby steps along the line, and we'll get some breaks and if we're in this thing every year and continue to improve what we're doing as a program, those baby steps will lead us there.
"But we'll hang in there and stay the course."
Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.
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Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.
It is always one game at a time. It's a team game, but each player has to remember the attitudes that lead to them getting into the zone. Their best games have always come off of an intense defense. When this team doesn't think about their shooting and just "zones out" when it's the time to shoot based on the offensive sets they've just run they are impossible to beat. I love these guys. They are Michigan.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.
Ummm, does everyone realize that to get to the elite 8, Michigan is going to have to beat UNC? ?!?! Not happening. that will be our end in the sweet 16. Love ya Blue, but you can't hang with the UNCs of this world. (yet). Prove me wrong!
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.
From a Spartan fan....I just read this article and it sunk in how big a season this was for Michigan basketball with their first Big Ten Championship in 26 years and top seeding in 14 years and highest seed for Beilein every. I was surprised to read that last part especially! Beilein is an outstanding coach...love that motion offense. Anyway, I do get tired of the ridiculous bashing that goes on between U of M and Spartan fans and wanted to shout out a sincere Congrats to Wolverine fans on a great season. The Spartan/Wolverine games were great and the rivalry is fun. It's really better and more entertaining that way. Good luck in the tourney and hopefully the Big 10 makes a respectable showing and garners the respect it deserves as being the toughest conference from top to bottom in the country.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.
XTR I think you are 100% correct! Michigan was completely unprepared for the other "ohio" game (given I thought the officiating set the tone early and it was horrendous!). None the less even if Michigan got all the calls in that game ohio would have won by 15 or so. Michigan will blow out this ohio team! In the Temple game if Temple comes out like the did against Penn then they will get smoked, if they come out like they did against Duke it will be a good game! All in all I think Michigan should be fine as long as they keep Hardaway from shooting 3's! Get a leash on that guy for goodness sakes, he is horrible outside, does not play D, and is starting to throw temper tantrums when things are going tough! Go Blue!!!
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:25 a.m.
The performance at the B1G was disappointing, if that will be the way Michigan will play, they will be lucky to get to the Sweet 16. Why waste this year's chance to prove something like in the B1G tournament? Take care of business the first 2 games and then beat the 1 seed and on to the elite 8. UM is a co B1G champ, play like one and carry the banner of the conference.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.
who you kiding Ohio suck! and so does the MAC, Iwanted to play SCum in the final and lay a 40 point slap on them. O well just another banner. Live by the 3 you die by it.Ill give you 1 game then back to where you came from. Did you catch the FLOP FIVE on the other chanel wile MSU was racking up another no.1 seed. lol!!!
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.
"Iwanted to play SCum in the final and lay a 40 point slap on them." You, sir, must be one talented player! South Carolina (or is that Southern California?) is indeed a lucky team to have avoided having to take you on!
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.
7, you are a credit to your school-----its perfect example.
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.
I am not surprised you are a Spartan fan. :P
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:10 a.m.
One game at a time. I don't know much about the other "Ohio" but if Michigan plays its good game, they should do fine. (Beware the MAC though). Temple is a very tough fundamentally tough team, just like Michigan. Fran Dunphy is one awesome coach. They have a decent big man, and a terrific guard duo. I think the Michigan-Temple game will be great, assuming both get there. (In fact, I'd love to see Michigan make a trip to Philadelphia to play Temple and Nova on a weekend--would be a fun trip for those guys). On to the sweet 16 where the going gets real tough. But let's get there first..... Go blue.