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It is Still Great to be a Michigan Wolverine

A little optimism after Monday night’s loss

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night was rough, and it’s never fun to lose decidedly on the national stage.

The 2017-2018 Michigan Wolverines basketball team brought us all on a memorable run that deserves every word of praise that’s donned these pages over the last few weeks. Jordan Poole’s miracle; Moe’s demolition of Loyola-Chicago; and tough wins against Montana and Florida State made this a postseason run to remember.

I’m pretty sure almost every text conversation I had Monday night ended with “smile because it happened” or some variation of the same. Michigan fans were blessed with watching their second national title run in a six-year window. They got to see Austin Hatch, one of the toughest and most resilient people you’ll ever see, get to suit up with his teammates on senior day.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Loyola vs Michigan Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Personally, I know that I’ll take a Big Ten Championship, a school-record in wins and two blowout cakewalks over Little Brother any day of the week. This team gave us absolutely everything they had and we should be proud of them.

Beilein’s army deserves its due, but it’s important not to get dragged into the depths of sadness that can accompany a defeat like Monday evening’s. It’s still pretty damn great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

The men’s hockey team faces Notre Dame in the Frozen Four Thursday night on ESPN2. The Fighting Irish are the Big Ten Champions, though the Wolverines have had their number. The school down south sits on the other side of the bracket. A hockey title going through the Irish and Buckeyes would be ever so satisfying.

On the gridiron, spring ball is underway. We’ve heard coaches and players rave about “as-of-now” starter Shea Patterson. Before hockey and basketball’s improbable runs, Patterson’s immediate eligibility petition was set to be the story of the spring. It’s a bit more of a supporting act now, but the NCAA’s decision as to whether Ole Miss misled Patterson and others could be a program defining moment for Harbaugh and company.

In the spirit of positivity, let’s say Patterson gets his eligibility. You’re adding a top 10 college quarterback to a team that returns almost 20 starters and a defense that’s rivaled by only the Alabama’s of the world. I know some have soured on Harbaugh, but I ask you to really dig down here. If Michigan has even semi-competent QB play, they beat the Spartans, likely beat South Carolina, and it’s reasonable to say they steal one from Wisconsin or Ohio State as well.

You’re adding an elite quarterback to that team. Yes, the schedule is tougher, but the curse of JT Barrett is over, and that can only mean good things!

Now, let’s return to basketball real quick because the future there is incredibly bright, too. If Wagner doesn’t get the grade from the NBA he wants, or he just wants to take one last crack at it, next year’s team is absolutely stacked.

Florida State v Michigan Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson are gone. So is Jaaron Simmons. But, that could be it. Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole, Isaiah Livers and Jon Teske are all back. The 2018 recruiting class has four 4-star and 2 top-100 prospects in it. Reinforcements are coming. If Wagner returns, Michigan will enter 2018-2019 as the Big Ten favorite and a national contender. That’s pretty darn good.

You may be reluctant to trust the football team, basketball may seem far away, and hockey may not be your cup of tea. That’s fine, but I’m telling you that the sun will come up, Saturday mornings will be here sooner than you think, and playoff hockey is some of the most exciting sport on the planet.

Finally, to the men’s basketball team who brought us on this ride of a lifetime, “For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. And forever, Go Blue!”