The last time Michigan were sitting on top of the basketball world was 20 years ago, when the fab five were still playing. A number one ranking doesn’t mean they’re national champions just yet, but it does say people are thinking they’re closer than they have been in quite some time.
That team from 20 years ago reached the final four and the final game two years in a row, although all their results have been vacated since. Michigan haven’t made it into the sweet sixteen since 1994, and had a share of the conference regular season title for the first time in 2012 after 26 years. Yes, times are changing. Suddenly, a first national championship since 1989 isn’t so far fetched.
John Beilein, in his sixth season at Ann Arbor, might be the man to do it. The Wolverines are 19-1 this season and 6-1 in the Big Ten. Beilein thinks that without winning the conference title, there’s no use thinking about the NCAA tournament.
Our goal at Michigan is to be No. 1 in the Big Ten. When you achieve that honor, you will have a chance at the national championship. All through the year polls will spark great interest among college basketball fans everywhere and that is always good. Our coaches and players, however, will remain focused on our goals of improving daily and competing for the championship within our conference.
Their only loss this season came at Ohio State, dropping it 56-53. They still have a home game against the Buckeyes, but also two more meetings with Michigan State and the #3 team in the nation, Indiana. Winning at Illinois 74-60 is impressive, but not as impressive as beating more serious teams that have the same aspirations as the Wolverines regarding this season.
The big stars of the team this season are both guards – Sophomore Trey Burke, averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 assists per game and Tim Hardaway Jnr, a Junior, averaging 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds. Around them are mostly freshmen like Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. The Wolvernies are 2-1 against ranked teams this season: North Carolina State earlier in the year with a win and Minnesota on the road two weeks ago, with the loss to Ohio State coming four days earlier.