The Michigan Wolverines had a pretty special decade of basketball in the 2010s. The team had two National Championship appearances, three seasons with 30+ wins, two Big Ten Tournament Championships in four appearances, and two regular season Big Ten Championships. The program also produced eight first round picks. John Beilein deserves basically all the credit for building the program to an overall 232-97 record during his run.
With all of this success came some incredible moments. In the waning days of ‘10s, here are the top 10 moments of Michigan Wolverines basketball this decade.
10. Michigan brings in Juwan Howard as head coach
The end of a decade brought a new head coach to the Michigan basketball program after Beilein decided to test the waters of the NBA after 12 seasons in Ann Arbor. He will go down as one of, if not the best coach in the history of the program.
Those are some pretty huge shoes to fill, but the university found its new coach rather quickly, and it has quickly become an amazing story.
Howard is now the head of this Michigan squad and has done an incredible job thus far. He has two wins against top 10 opponents, a 9-3 record to open the year, a Battle for Atlantis trophy, and has a borderline top five recruiting class for next season.
It’s abundantly clear this man loves his job and loves the University of Michigan. He was brought to tears at his introductory press conference.
Where a decade ends with a phenomenal coach, a new era begins with this man at the helm. So far, the Wolverines have stayed the course of the precedent Beilein set. Hopefully we will see continued success and a couple of championships with the Michigan program with Howard as the head coach heading into the 2020s.
9. No. 15 Michigan upsets No. 2 Michigan State in Big Ten Tournament
The Wolverines were attempting to win their second straight Big Ten Tournament in 2018, but their in-state rival stood in their way as the No. 2 team in the country.
Moe Wagner, the Wolverines’ best player, had one of the worst games of his career shooting 4-of-14 from the field after opening up the game 0-for-7. But the Wolverines fought their way through it and earned a huge win thanks to hot shooting in the second half. Michigan would beat a top five ranked Spartan team for the second time that season.
Here are some highlights of the great battle:
The Wolverines would go on to beat Purdue and win their second straight Big Ten Tournament Championship.
8. Trey Burke wins the Naismith and Wooden Awards
It is safe to say Burke was the best player to wear a Michigan uniform this decade. There are several other players that have been just a step below him, but Burke was a superstar for two seasons in Ann Arbor.
His second year at Michigan, Burke led the Wolverines to the National Championship after averaging 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He could do everything on both sides of the ball and was the perfect point guard to run Beilein’s system.
Because of that, Burke found himself with a lot of hardware. In 2012-13 he won both the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award for the most outstanding player in college basketball. He was also the Big Ten Player of The Year, All-Big Ten First Team, and a consensus All-American. His freshman season, Burke also won the Big Ten Rookie of the Year and was on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
Here’s a reminder of just how good he was:
7. 2012-13 Michigan starts 16-0, achieve No. 1 overall
The Michigan basketball program had a bit of a history starting off seasons really hot under Beilein. In a season where they had Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskus and Mitch McGary as the starting lineup, the Wolverines jumped to 16-0 and the No. 1 ranking in the country.
The team by far was the most explosive offensively in the country, and it was the pinnacle of offense in Beilein’s tenure. They scored over 90 points five times during that win streak. Burke had an impressive 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting in a win over West Virginia as well.
At the time, it would be the longest streak of wins to open up a season in program history, but that was broke last season. The only knock on this was Michigan had only one win against a ranked opponent in this span.
6. Michigan makes it to the 2013 National Championship
The Wolverines battled their way to the National Championship against the No. 1 seeded Louisville Cardinals during that historic 2012-13 season. Michigan went 31-8 and beat No. 1 seeded Kansas, No. 3 seeded Florida and No. 4 seeded Syracuse.
Rick Pitino had set a very impressive roster (now we know it was done pretty sketch-ily). Unfortunately for the Wolverines, after a really impressive season and with probably the best player in the country, they fell just short. It was the first time the program had been in the National Championship since the Fab Five era, and it helped set the tone for the rest of the decade.
5. The 17-0 start in 2018-19
The Wolverines started off on a magical run last season. A team that lost three starters was expected to be a good team, but instead they went on a run of what could be debated as the best of Beilein’s Michigan career.
They went to Philly and beat No. 8 Villanova 73-46 after losing to them in the 2017-18 National Championship game. Then, they hosted the No. 11 North Carolina Tar Heels and walloped them 84-67. Next they would go on to beat their third top 20 team in the season’s first nine games in a big win over Big Ten rival No. 19 Purdue. They’d go on to win their next eight games, including another top 25 win over Indiana, and the team arose to the No. 2 ranking in the country.
The 17-game win streak to open up a season is now the longest in program history.
4. Michigan makes it to the 2017-18 National Title
The Wolverines made it to two National Championships this decade, but this was by far the more impressive of the two. This team was endearingly called “The Misfits of Michigan” on the National Championship post game recap video of Maize n Brews’ own Chris Castellani after a tough 79-62 loss to Villanova, and I feel his statement personified the team perfectly.
This team wasn’t supposed to be there, and that is what made them so special. They came into the season unranked, but got hot and hit their stride at the perfect time. They won 14 straight at one point and won the Big Ten Tournament.
A little bit of magic in the tournament with a half-court buzzer-beater by Jordan Poole against Houston continued a run that could have been cut far too short. Michigan also beat Texas A&M, Florida State and Loyola Chicago on it’s path to the Championship.
Unfortunately, for the second time in the decade, the Wolverines fell short in the biggest game. However, you have to appreciate the excellence of Beilein as a head coach and the basketball program as a whole for getting the most out of a team that may not have been the most talented in the country.
3. Burke hits the shot to force OT against Kansas
The 2012-13 Wolverines found themselves down three points with 12.6 seconds to go in the Sweet 16 as Kansas guard Ben McLemore missed his final free throw, allowing Burke one more opportunity to tie up the game.
The three-pointer sent the game into overtime, and the Wolverines would win the game and head to their first Final Four since 1993.
2. Poole hits half-court shot against Houston
Michigan played an abysmal game against the Houston Cougars in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines shot 36.8 percent from the field in what was not a game any Michigan fan really would have remembered, and the season looked like it was going to be over.
All hope seemed to be lost as the Wolverines found themselves down two points with only 3.6 seconds remaining. Next came potentially the biggest shot in program history.
We all know how this story ended, the Wolverines marched on to the title game, even though they lost big to Villanova.
1. Michigan wins the 2017 Big Ten Tournament following plane crash
This may be the most absurd Michigan sports story of the decade altogether.
The Wolverines were heading to Washington D.C. for the Big Ten Tournament in 2017 when their plane skidded off the side of the runway due to harsh winds. Thankfully, everyone exited safely with minimal or no injuries despite the fact the plane was severely damaged.
There was a time period where it seemed like the university and coaching staff were not going to send the team to the tournament following the accident. Beilein described the team as “a little banged and shook up,” and the team was supposed to play at noon in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament the next day.
But they stayed resilient and went into the Big Ten Tournament as highly unlikely winners coming in at the No. 8 seed. The Wolverines left at 6 a.m. March 9 and played Illinois. However, their equipment was still in the crashed plane, so the team played in their practice uniforms less than 24 hours after the plane crash and dominated their first game from start to finish, beating the Illini 75-55.
Next, they faced the No. 1 seeded Purdue Boilermakers and again they won a close one in overtime, 74-70, behind 26 points from D.J. Wilson. The Wolverines went on to defeat Minnesota by seven thanks to 29 points and 9 assists from Derrick Walton. They advanced to the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin.
The Badgers were the No. 2 seed in the bracket, but they certainly didn’t play like it. Michigan came out of the gate rolling and won 71-56 to win the Big Ten Championship. They went from potentially not even going to the tournament to Big Ten Tournament Champions in five days.
Here is a recap of the 2017 Big Ten Tournament for Michigan.