If there is a conversation full of vibrancy and hope among Michigan fans, it might be revolving around the men’s basketball team.
Over the years, this program has become a solace for Michigan fans, and why wouldn’t it? They constantly see Michigan success on one of the biggest stages in college athletics. They have seen Michigan rise to the level of notoriety of a modern “blue blood” school, and they’ve seen them bring home banners. If anything, Michigan fans love being part of history-making greatness, and Juwan Howard and company are doing just that.
Michigan men’s basketball has broken into the spotlight with their enthralling story of success, and it doesn’t look like they will be dimming anytime soon.
Now, a collective argument among fans revolves around whether Michigan is a football school or a basketball school. While it’s all in good fun, it appears men’s basketball is carving out their own place in Michigan sports history, which might be why this conversation comes up so often. Michigan is a famous football school and have the records to prove it. They’ve become storied and cemented into the school’s history because of their decades of success.
But the current moment has the men’s basketball program writing a story of their own. It’s not necessarily saying Michigan is one or the other, but it is saying we are living through a moment in time that’s seeing a storied program take hold.
That’s why there is excitement and a willingness to discuss Michigan men’s basketball. The last decade has seen the Wolverines make two national championship games, win three Big Ten championships and back-to-back Big Ten Tournaments. They have become an expected presence in the NCAA Tournament, and that’s only served to cement this era of men’s basketball into the storybooks.
The Wolverines have reaped the benefits of this success, as seen in their recruiting classes. Michigan was never a school people needed to notice. The weight of Michigan itself was a seller to begin with, but now it’s paired with one of the top basketball programs in the nation. It’s definitely a source of pride for Michigan fans.
Back in 2018, when the men’s basketball team was making their run for the championship, the story played out like a fairytale, which happened a lot when John Beilein was the head coach of the Wolverines. Michigan could produce championship-caliber teams without “one and dones,” and that in itself was enough to get people talking.
Seeing the Maize and Blue compete and win against the most notorious college basketball programs put them at the front and center of conversations. Beilein grew a beautiful thing in Ann Arbor, and fans were heartbroken when he left. The sting was only soothed by seeing Howard take the stage. In a tearful thankfulness as he was introduced for the first time as the head coach, Michigan fans had hope the story would continue.
Michigan has a lot of history it relies on. It is an emotional crutch from time to time, and people rag on us for “living in the good ole days.” One of these moments from the “good ole days” was the Fab Five itself. The Fab Five, for better or worse, created a moment in Michigan’s history that has transcended time. They oozed success and flare, which cemented them here forever. Now, almost 30 years later, the Wolverines are writing another story with a team that’s led by one of those very members of the Fab Five.
Howard, in his second season as head coach, got the Maize and Blue to the Elite Eight. He also brought in the top recruiting class in the Big Ten and won Coach of the Year honors. His need to attain and continue the success of the men’s basketball team has been apparent since he got here. There is still newness around him, but his ability to bring in top recruits in the nation has only aided in fan’s excitement. Michigan men’s basketball’s ability to provide relief and solace for fans isn’t going anywhere, and the most special thing about it is that we get to live through it.
We are living in a golden age of Michigan basketball, and that’s why we eagerly await for the team to start the 2021-22 season. They have a lot of expectations heading into this year and have the makings to achieve greatness. With mere days left to see what they are made of, Wolverine fans everywhere rejoice in the return of their favorite story.
Michigan kicks off their season against the Buffalo Bulls on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.