We all kind of figured this would be the case after losing to Rutgers in their first game of the Big Ten Tournament, but Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines are officially out of the NCAA Tournament.
Instead, they will be participating in the National Invitation Tournament, otherwise known as the NIT. They are a No. 3 seed and their first opponent will be the Toledo Rockets.
Michigan was originally announced as a No. 2 seed in the NIT, but the team said in a tweet late Sunday night that that was a mistake by the NCAA.
Just some clarity. The NIT bracket originally put out by the NCAA had us as the 2-seed. Turns out it was an error by them, and we are the 3-seed ...— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) March 13, 2023
We still play Toledo on Tuesday night at Crisler at 7 p.m.
NIT | https://t.co/lFhD4AfYPd
〽️ | #ForCompetitorsOnly#GoBlue pic.twitter.com/QewLFM39fs
“Being able to coach this team again means a great deal,” coach Howard said in a press release. “We get a chance to play for a championship. That means something. These guys have put their hearts and souls into this year despite all the adversity. This team has grown throughout the year, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to suit up and compete again.”
The Wolverines have been in the NIT on a number of occasions, and actually won the tournament back in 2004. The team they beat — the Rutgers Scarlet Knights by a final score of 62-55. They were also runner-ups in 2006, losing to South Carolina. The program’s last NIT appearance was one year later in 2007.
After losing to Rutgers, Howard and Hunter Dickinson were both pretty vague about whether or not the team would accept a potential invite to the NIT. Any season that ends in a trip to the NIT should be viewed as a failure, but it is good the Wolverines are participating in it. It gives them more practices to gel together and get better as a team, it gives the younger players experience in a tournament setting, and if they perform well, it can set a good tone heading into the offseason.
Postseason play begins for the Wolverines this week, as their game against Toledo is on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. As coaches like to say around this time of year, “It’s a new season,” so hopefully Howard and his program treat it like that and play loose and have fun before the offseason begins.