Recent Tournament Success
Here's a quick recap of Michigan’s last five years in the NCAA Tournament.
3 Sweet Sixteens
2 Elite Eights
2 B1G Titles (1 regular season/1 tourney)
1 Final Four
1 National Championship Appearance
The last two weeks include a plane crash, wins over Purdue and Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship, a Sweet Sixteen birth, and their season isn't over yet.
It also includes their biggest accomplishment by beating Louisville for the first time in program history after an 0-3 record, with the most recent loss in the 2013 National Championship. This win and image of Coach Beilein with his super soaker relieved some of the sting from that loss.
Catch what Coach Beilein said about Wagner’s performance against Louisville and super soakers in the video below.
While many may think college football when they bring up Michigan, Coach Beilein has created more success than some may realize, and the now with the most wins than any other coach in program history. Sure, the National Championship banner and trophy has not made its way to Ann Arbor in the last five years, but the “Why Not Us?” mentality of this team proves that they are soaring together at the right time as a team, no matter the challenge. It started out by the shared effort in the Big Ten Tournament opener.
Stats From Illinois Win on March 9
Three different players have scored at least 22 points in the last few games during the post-season.
26 points against Purdue on March 10
Derrick Walton Jr.
29 points- Minnesota, March 11 (career high)
22 points- Wisconsin, March 12
27 points- Oklahoma State, March 17
26 points- Louisville, March 19
A Combined Team Effort
Since Michigan doesn't have to rely on one player to carry the others each game, it takes some of that pressure off everyone else to play as a team and someone has stepped up when the game is on the line. We saw this happen against Louisville with Walton Jr. scoring only 10 points and Wagner rising to the challenge and leading the team with 26 points. Walton Jr. had 7 assists and 7 rebounds, so he still contributed and made an impact on the game without scoring.
The last time Walton Jr. scored less than 10 points you have to go back when Michigan lost to Maryland on January 7 and he scored 5 points, the lost again to Illinois on January 11 when he had 11 points. They went 5-4 in January, then another loss on February 4 against Ohio State for a combined record of 14-9. The NIT was looking more of a realistic tournament bid with several tough games left on the schedule and many questioning whether Coach Beilein should return next year or if a change should happen.
The Season Turnaround Win Against Sparty
The team sparked some life on February 7 by winning 86-57 against Michigan State. Some may look back on that game and say that was the turnaround game for the season. Walton Jr. ended with 20 points, 8 assist, and 5 rebounds with Wagner right behind him at 19 points. That dominating win against the Spartans provided them with the confidence knowing what they’re capable of doing as a team. Since then, the only two blemishes were an overtime loss to Minnesota on the road and a buzzer beater loss at Northwestern. Those losses did not rattle this team and have not looked back since knowing what opportunity lies ahead of them starting Thursday night against No. 3 Oregon.
Why Not Michigan?
The Wolverines surpassed the ceiling many gave them this year from a probable NIT team in January, to a bubble team in late February and now one of only 16 teams still standing. They want to keep crashing the dance for who's standing in front of them and next up it's No. 3 Oregon. It’s anyone's guess who will make it to the Final Four, but Michigan is playing like one of the most dangerous teams in the country and has what it takes to get another shot at the National Championship.