national champs baby
I was six, and my dad was listening to Bob Ufer's call of a Michigan game in our backyard. My memory tells me it was a beautiful sunny September day in Southeast Michigan. I didn't have the attention span to listen to a whole game, but my ears heard Ufer getting excited about something so I strolled over expecting to hear him celebrating another Meechigan victory. Instead, I witnessed the classic Ufer meltdown. I do not have an independent memory of Ufer's words, but I remember my dad explaining what happened, and I remember my dad's heartache. My most vivid memory is hearing the name Harry Oliver and knowing that this Notre Dame kicker ruined a perfectly good Saturday afternoon for me and my dad. In my heart, I thought nothing this bad could happen again to Michigan. I have never been so wrong.
I have been on this earth for nearly 40 years, and the Harry Oliver moments hurt exponentially more the longer we go without a national championship in football and basketball. Michigan has had so many great teams in football and basketball, but they always seem to break my heart. I was in Michigan Stadium for Minnesota in 86, Colorado's Hail Mary, Rocket's returns, Desmond's trip, The Horror and many more heartbreaks. Plus, I have lived through Webber's timeout, two second round exits by great basketball teams in the mid 80s, the "holding" call that ruined Bo's last game and on and on and on. Michigan has been in the championship game five times in my lifetime and have only sung The Victors once. Even the 97 football championship had to be polluted by a retirement gift for Tom Osborn.
During my lifetime schools like Florida, Alabama, Duke, UNC, Penn State, MSU, USC, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida State, Kentucky and Louisville have won two or more national championships in basketball, football or both. Too many times I just have to tell myself that Michigan could have beaten those teams if a blown call, dropped pass, half court heave or miracle kick did not keep us from having our chance to play for the championship.
I'm sick of what ifs and next years, Michigan is a special place that I love with all my heart. I want the Treys, ACs, McGarys and Desmonds to be the last men standing. Forty years, two national championships and infinite heartache.
Louisville is Harry Oliver, and my inner Ufer is screaming in agony. I am six years old. The sun is shining. I once again am telling myself that nothing this bad can happen again to this MEECHIGAN of ours. Go Blue!
I was watching pre-game coverage when a bout of inspiration hit me. I ignored all else so I could get this down before I forgot it. I hope you enjoy this. Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear there’s a pretty big game on right now.
The devil Pitino went down to Georgia, he was looking for a title to steal.
He was in a bind, his team was way behind because Burke was making steals.
He had run into some young men raining down threes and making some blocks.
the devil Pitino jumped up onto the hardcourt and said “Boys, let me tell you what:
“I bet you didn’t know it, but my team’s pretty damn good too
“And if you care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.
“Now you’ve playing good basketball, but give my Cardinals their due:
“I bet the national title against your game ‘cause I think we’re better than you.”
The boys said: “Well we’re the Fresh Five and this may not be wise,
“But we’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret, cause we’re the best since the Fab Five.”
Wolverines take your practice shots and get ready to play hard.
‘Cause Louisville’s in Georgia and
the devil Pitino deals the cards.
And if you win you gain respect from M fans young and old.
But if you lose, it just might crush my soul.
The devil Pitino chalked up many plays and said: “We’ll start this show.”
And threes rained from beyond the arc and put backs went down low.
And the Cardinals were the darlings, making Wolverine fans hiss.
Then the Cardinal sang a song to their glory and it sounded something like this:
When the Cardinals finished, the Fresh Five said: “Well you’re pretty good ‘ol chaps.
“But sit down on that bench, right there.” And Burke gave the court a slap.
Stauskas nailing three balls, one by one.
Burke showing all why we’re number one.
Robinson and Hardaway alley-oops, WHOA!
“Beilein does Big Puppy bite?”
Go, Mitch, go.”
The devil Pitino and the Cardinals sank low once they were beat.
And they laid the national title on the court at the Fresh Five’s feet.
Burke said: “
Devil Pitino just come on back but I warn you that’s not wise.
“’Cause we told you once, you sorry old man, we’re the best since the Fab Five.”
And they sang “Stauskas nailed three balls, one by one.
“Burke showed all why we’re number one.
“Robinson and Hardaway alley-ooped, WHOA!
“And Mitch got a double-double.
“Go, Blue, Go!”
Remaining Games Chart:
Since the last time I've modified the chart a bit so instead of a non-sensical number average, "Difficulty" is now on a log scale of 1 to 10 of the KenPom/RPI average weighted by site of game.
|23||#South Dakota St.||5||103||75||71-56|
Well, Here We Are
Not surprisingly, the most difficult game by the numbers comes last. Michigan displaced the previous #1 KenPom team convincingly and is rewarded by playing the new #1 for the championship.
The good news is that these rankings and statistics are a formality at this point. The game is a one-off, winner-take-all, who is hot on the right night, who gets the 50/50 call, who can make the shots. Michigan has been in every single game this season except for one and the circumstances leading up to that game are not what we have here tonight.
NCAA Tourney Run vs B1G Gauntlet
If you laid out Michigan’s tournament games from the Sweet 16 to the Championship you would see before you, at least according to KenPom, an unrivaled task of difficulty – four consecutive top 10 opponents, with lots of travel and not much time to prepare.
Michigan, incredibly, has already run an equally challenging gauntlet earlier this year. There are no advanced statistics that can measure what kind of benefit of experience a team takes away from playing the top four teams consecutively (three on the road) in a nine day span; but it is safe to say that these are the kinds of things that either make you or break you. Regardless of outcome Monday night the answer is already clear.
February 2nd – 12th
March 29th – April 8th
As painful as it was to watch, can you draw up a tougher cluster of regular season games with which to teach and prepare this extremely young Michigan team?
- Without Burke, could Michigan have rallied vs Kansas?
- Without Hardaway pouring in 21 points on 5 of 7 three point shooting in a fifteen point victory, does Michigan have what it takes to beat South Dakota St?
- Without Stauskas firebombing Florida, do the Gators keep it close and have a shot to win?
- Without Robinson III's offensive efficiency and offensive rebounding does Michigan sputter in any of its tournament matchups, particularly Syracuse or SDSt?
- Without McGary becoming a world beater, doesn't Michigan suffer an inevitable "Wisconsin"-style loss to Syracuse or get blown out by Kansas or get upset by VCU?
- Without Albrecht becoming the most eligible bachelor and putting together a tournament highlight reel all his own, does Burke get worn down to the point Michigan exits early?
- Without LeVert making two critical three pointers and playing a terrific defensive game, does Michigan have what it takes to outlast Syracuse?
- Without Jordan Morgan "getting stops", does Michigan make it to the Championship game?
The best part of this run has been every rotation player has made plays crucial to the success of the whole team. As much as I thought the team's success would be utterly reliant on Trey Burke's performance, as went he so would the team's fate. Now vs Kansas this was true. But against South Dakota St and Syracuse in particular this was very much not the case. As a whole, the team has exceeded wildest expectations.
The Path To 32:
At Christmas I had seen this team play three games out in New York, I knew they were special. Now to climb to the top of the mountain we can throw out all the numbers, forget all the statistics, take our own time-out and appreciate how awesome this team is. The most difficult game of the season is the last. There is no tomorrow, but there is no fear.
(Photo from UMHoops)
As Michigan gets ready to take on Syracuse in a national hoops semifinal this evening, undoubtedly many of us will want to enjoy the game with a tasty citrus beverage—with or without alcoholic accompaniment. And on a night like tonight, nothing will be more satisfying to the Wolverine faithful than crushing the juice out of those oranges ourselves. If you’re accustomed to procuring your O.J. from the Tropicanas or Florida’s Naturals of the world, however, you might be a little unsure how to go about the fresh-squeeze. Luckily, the YouTubes are chock-full of helpful how-tos, and EGD has sorted through them so you don’t have to.
In this short & sweet production, natural food chef Kristina Jackson drops three oranges into an opaque food processor, and lets the camera zoom in on the orange trickle coming out the bottom while she runs down the nutritional specs. It’s effective, but not very satisfying.
Okay, here we have a hipsterish Canadian man demonstrating how to make O.J. in a fancy centrifugal dejuicer—while wearing only boxer shorts. His girlfriend (who, unfortunately, is not as extensively unattired) winds up doing most of the work while Pierre yammers on about bioflavonoids. Sure, why not.
From the “people will put anything on the internet” category, now here we have a :12 clip of a hand brutalizing a pair of orange wedges by repeatedly smashing them against a porcelain sink top. Not very useful and lacks the kind of sophistication that one associates with the University of Michigan, but hey—the EGD don’t judge.
In this video, a disembodied hand transforms 28 orange wedges into about 6 oz. of juice using a Ninja blender and a wire mesh strainer. Evidently that wasn’t as much juice as the hand expected, as you’ll see at the end. Sometimes unintentional humor is the best (same goes for the persistent use of all caps, and the amazingly lame acoustic guitar music that continues unabated throughout).
This one features a young headless girl prying the seeds out of halved oranges with a knife that’s longer than her forearm, then cranking them around a hand-dejuicer for an epic 15:00 running time. Admittedly I only watched the first 2:19, but that segment includes plenty of girl-on-orange violence and even a brief argument between our main protagonist and her off-camera mommy. This one’s a winner. And if 15 minutes isn’t enough orange killing for y’all, check out “How to Make Orange Juice! Pt. 2” for another 14 minutes of heart-stopping O.J. action.
Alright. Well, that’s probably enough orange juice videos for one day. But before I go, here’s a recipe for a delicious cocktail that you can make with your fresh-squeezed product:
Crying Orange Martini
· 3 oz. bourbon
· 1.5 oz. triple sec
· 1.5 oz. fresh orange tears
· 2 muddled Mandarin slices
Directions: mix bourbon, triple sec, and orange tears in cocktail shaker. Strain into glass. Garnish with Mandarin slices.