It's impressive to think surviving a plane crash is only the third most talked-about thing the Michigan basketball team has done over the last two weeks.
But that's how it goes for a team that has caught fire in March.
The Wolverines have been a different team since February 7, the day they followed up back-to-back losses to rivals by thrashing Michigan State by 29 points in Crisler Center. Since that game, Michigan is 12-2 overall and has won seven straight—the last five of which were all against NCAA Tournament teams—to go along with its Big Ten Tournament championship and its ticket to the Sweet 16.
But the work is not over. There is more to be written in the tale of the Plane Crash Boys.
On Thursday (March 23) the Maize and Blue will take on No. 3 seed Oregon, who knocked off Iona and a pesky Rhode Island team to advance to Kansas City. The Ducks have only lost five games all season. They are tough to beat. They crash the boards and score a ton of points. But I don't think anyone in the country wants to play Michigan right now.
Oregon, as a team, scores upwards of 79 points per contest to go along with 38 rebounds. Before big man Chris Boucher went down with an injury late in the season, all five of its starters averaged double-digit points, led by junior forward Dillon Brooks with 16.4 points per game. Boucher also added over six rebounds per game, a key factor in Oregon's presence in the paint. They'll miss him on Thursday. In comparison, Michigan averages 75 points and 29 rebounds.
How has Oregon succeeded this season? By doing it all. Scoring. Rebounding. Simply dominating its opponents.
How has Michigan turned its season around? Simple: they learned how to win. There have been blowouts (Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois), but they've also had to battle until the end in games with Purdue, Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Louisville. In each of its first two games in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan has erased second half deficits to win.
Oregon is a talented team in many facets of the game. They've proven that all season. And if Michigan can get past them, surely either Purdue or Kansas will prove to be another enormous obstacle to the Final Four.
But who said March was supposed to be easy?
This Michigan team is a great story. From the mid-season turnaround to the statement in its finale against Nebraska. From the plane crash to the Big Ten Tournament championship. From a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament to the Sweet 16. What more do they need to prove? What still needs to be done?
At this point they just need to continue doing what they've done the last several weeks, and we'll keep shaking our heads and wonder how in the heck they keep doing it.