Since I'm losing my mind waiting for our game and quickly lsoing patience watching UConn's disgusting brand of basketball, here's another post to talk about the fan experience of this run compared to last year's:
I'm not used to sustained success from the basketball program, let alone acute success. I can't stop thinking about how much different this year's team is than last year's team, and how much different our tournament run feels.
Last year, every game seemed like a gift. We were seeded underdogs in almost every game. Going into the Elite Eight, after that miracle against Kansas, I was in a state of Fandom Nirvana. It was one of the only times where I really truly think I would have felt very minimal pain from losing. I was also terrified of Florida, and had little faith we would win.
This year? I don't know how to feel. It seems like last game we were Kansas and Tennessee couldn't quite pull out the dagger against us. At the same time, we've been disrespected and largely ignored. It makes me doubt the knowledge I've gained about the team from watching them all season, and makes me be overly cynical. But I am not as scared of Kentucky, even if I should be. I also think I will be much more upset if we lose. Mostly, I am impatient.
There's my pregame thoughts. What say you all?
First we have the JV game (ha), UConn vs Staee. Unfortunately I feel like Virginia had a much better chance to beat State than UConn does. I don't see UConn being able to match up with Payne and Dawson's physicality down low. Virginia had them on the ropes, but State made just enough plays down the stretch to come out with the W. I think UConn's only chance is for either Napier or Boatright to play the games of their lives. This is definitely possible, especially in MSG, but I unfortunately see State pulling this one out.
Then we have our Michigan Wolverines taking on Kentucky. In basketball, there's really two ways to create extra possessions for your team. One is to get offensive rebounds, which Kentucky is probably going to do. The second is to turn the ball over less than your opponent, which we (hopefully) will do. If those two things are close to even, then it really just comes down to who shoots the ball better. Michigan needs to play very efficiently offensively, and I think we'll be able to. One thing a lot of people aren't talking about is the loss of Cauley Stein's pick and roll defense. I think having a big guy that is skilled at defending the pick and roll is one of the most important factors in being able to contain Michigan's offense. While I haven't seen much of Dakari Johnson play, everything I've read points to him possibly struggling in this area. I think we definitely need to take advatage of this. And also, it will be key for Kentucky to shoot 3-pointers more to their season average (4/14 vs Louisville), and not get hot like they did against Wichita State.
MSU 77, UConn 67
Michigan 73, Kentucky 68
Glenn Robinson III was interviewed yesterday and made a few comments that hint at this being his last few games as a Wolverine. Tough decision when you factor in his draft stock at the moment.(30s) It will be very interesting to see what McGary does as well. I'm of the mind that both need to stay and cement their draft stock in a weaker draft next season but I'm starting to get that feeling that all 3 of Stauskas, McGary and Robinson are taking their talents to the NBA. It's hard not to be happy for them individually but it's tough losing underclassmen every year. If we grab this Title I don't think anyone would really be too concerned though so lets just smoke Kentucky today and let the chips fall where they may!