It’s finally March, and the Michigan Wolverines are looking like one of the best teams in the country ... again.
Following the amazing weekend of winning the Big Ten Tournament for the second consecutive year, the team will now sit back and wait until Sunday evening when the official bracket is announced. Nobody knows if this longer than normal break will benefit or negatively impact the Wolverines.
But with the way head coach John Beilein has run his program, it’s hard to imagine this team would be negatively impacted by the long break. He gets the best out of his guys day in and day out and does a great job of developing guys that aren’t recruited as high as the guys that are at Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and the other star-studded programs.
How does John Beilein develop teams when it counts in March?
This is a question that’s been on my mind, and maybe yours, because it’s hard to find a coach that’s done more with less lately than John Beilein.
This is not a team full of one-and-done’s or five-star recruits. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was a two-star recruit and Moritz Wagner came from Germany. Not only are the new faces and starters developing in late March, but Michigan also has the "Sixth Man of the Year" in the Big Ten conference with Duncan Robinson, and bench play has become their lethal weapon with guys like Jon “Smash” Teske, who had 14 points against Purdue.
Speaking of the bench, Michigan’s bench play was a huge factor in winning the conference tournament this year. The Wolverines has 23 bench points against Purdue and 15 against MSU. Not to mention Robinson’s three 3-pointers against Iowa, the only 3-pointers made in that game that essentially won them the game.
Sure, they’re not a perfect team and have flaws like every other in the country. The main grumbling or complaint I’ve heard, which I think is comical to be complaining after the weekend, is the free-throw shooting percentage.
Here are a few quick stats looking back to January:
Two years ago, some thought the Beilein era was coming to an end. They barely made the 2016 NCAA Tournament and almost lost to a terrible Tulsa team before losing to Notre Dame.
They also got smacked around by their biggest rivals, but things sure have changed since then. Beilein has one of the cleanest programs in the country, and his coaching staff has developed a team that’s become so likable — on the court and with their personalities — that it’s hard to root against them.
They’ve got size and depth that’s become one of the best defenses in the country, sitting at No. 6, according to KenPom. Michigan is not typically known for a great defense, but this team has continued to turn heads and is getting recognized late in the season again.
John Beilein was asked recently how he does it and here’s what he had to say.
This is a year when the NCAA Tournament is wide open. The blue bloods are still clawing their way through, but Wolverine fans have to be jacked to find out where they get seeded, knowing they can beat or compete with anyone.
Hail to the Victors and bring on the madness, because Michigan is on a roll and John Beilein is at it again when it matters the most.