Mike Lantry, 1972
2012 NCAA Tournament
Well, I know the NCAA Tournament has lost a bit of its luster now that our beloved Wolverines are no longer in the running, but there are still games to be played and brackets to be (further) ruined.
1 SYR 75 - 9 KSU 59
2 OSU vs 7 Gonzaga - Just started
3 Marq vs 6 Murray St - 5:15pm
4 Wisc vs 5 Vandy - 6:10pm
4 Ind vs 12 VCU - 7:10pm
1 UK vs 8 ISU - 7:45pm
3 Baylor vs 8 Colorado - 8:40pm
4 Louisville vs 5 New Mex - 9:40pm
Anyone see any potential upsets today? I think the best shot at an upset would be New Mexico over Louisville. Plus, if you agree with the analysts, Wisconsin winning would be an "upset". Baylor could potentially lay an egg today too - they didn't look all that great on Thursday. I was really hoping KSU would give Syracuse more of a fight.
Now that I've stopped grinding my teeth (and cursing up a storm) in frustration during the entire game against Ohio University, and now that I've accepted the loss to that solid team (led by an outstanding performance by DJ Cooper); I realize that despite the upset tonight, Michigan was a great team in 2011 -- 2012. Looking on as a dedicated basketball fan, I believe Michigan overachieved when it captured a share of the Big Ten championship for the season. In retrospect, it looks like that overachievement also led to the team losing some of its hunger--some of its edge.
Now, I'm not suggesting the team didn't prepare enough for the post-season tournaments. I just think the mentality of the team changed the moment it won a share of the title. Before that moment, Michigan (like the previous season and even like the season Beilein first took Michigan to the NCAA tournament) was out to prove people (the naysayers and doubters) wrong. It often acted like its back was to the wall. That mentality is how it beat MSU and Ohio at home and also went on the road and won at Illinois and at PSU. Winning the big ten title, however, validated Michigan's great season, and Michigan never seemed like it could thereafter adjust its mental approach (from that of an underdog to that of a champion) to play well going forward.
You may remember that the team came out flat against Minnesota. Michigan still won because the gap between Michigan and the Gophers is apparent. I think the gap is less apparent against Ohio University and inapplicable relative to Ohio. Michigan was hungry when it won out after losing to Purdue; and, if it had that same edge tonight, I think we would have advanced to Sunday. Instead, Michigan now has the off-season to learn how to play as a favorite, as a front runner.
And who knows? Perhaps Beilein also isn't used to being the favorite. It's possible. Ultimately though, I have no doubt that Michigan will perform better in the tournaments next year.
Despite the disappointment of tonight's game, I gotta give it up for the seniors and the rest of the team. The team was undersized the entire season and still earned a championship in the best conference. Would advancing to the second weekend--the sweet 16--been a notable improvement over last season's finish? Yes, without question.
Was winning a big ten title this season a notable improvement over last season's 9-9 finish in the conference? Yes, without question. Would I trade the championship for a sweet 16 finish? No, without question; absolutely not. Next year, I want the championship and the sweet 16 (at least!).
So, anyway, thanks, Michigan, for a great season. For basketball, I see a bright future with a team hungrier in 2012 -- 2013 than it was when it finished 2012 -- 2013. As Denard once said: "This program's been starving for a while. It's time for us to make something happen. We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."
March Madness has us all in its grips, squeezing the picks out of us. Every year I sweat and swear as I fill out my bracket, knowing all along that my first round picks will be decent and then my bracket will go to sh-t. Its all I can do to have even just one team in the damn Final Four. So I was wondering if you all have any interesting ways of picking "toss up" games or filling out your backets in general.
One interesting tidbit I found on Yahoo is this"
Make difficult picks using the "mascot fight" theory
Two of the hardest games to pick in last year's first round were UCLA-Michigan State and Vanderbilt-Richmond. They were veritable toss-ups. But looking at these games in retrospect, they were all too easy to pick. Bruins vs. Spartans? Hmm, a vicious bear or a person who shuns the conveniences of modern living? I saw "Grizzly Man." I know how that story ends.
(I deleted the reference to "Friends" in that blurb because, well, "Friends" and NCAA basketball should never be uttered in the same discussion.)
Fork over your secrets!