What achievement would make this basketball season a success?

Submitted by stephenrjking on March 10th, 2013 at 10:32 PM

The regular season is over. A B1G regular-season title, the crowning achievement of last year's team, is lost. 

But there is still much to play for. My question for the board: What result would satisfy you for this year's team? Keep in mind both its preseason expectations and the incredible strength of the conference. Would a B1G tournament win make the season a success? A sweet 16 berth? Elite 8?

The question is, what achievement will make you say "Awesome, the rest is just gravy?"




As it happens, this year reminds me of another season when a loaded Michigan basketball team missed out on a conference championship. They lost twice to a dynamic Big Ten club stocked with NBA talent.  But then, in the Final Four, they played them again...

We lost today. We'll see them again. Bring it.



March 10th, 2013 at 11:29 PM ^

In actual composition this team bears little resemblance to 1989. Frankly, there aren't many teams anywhere with a Glen Rice on the floor. But then, actual paper comparisons are of little use anyway; Michigan fans endlessly contextualize their hopes for a future football season based on some resemblance the new team bears to the 1997 squad, just as we talk about '89 in basketball. In hockey, everyone is crossing their fingers for a repeat of the '10 playoff run to earn a tournament bid. It is the nature of the sports fan.

Of course it doesn't make sense on paper, because there are always going to be differences. But the experiences are similar, and that's what we talk about.

And sometimes the bigger picture is a better view than the smaller one. In this case, Michigan does not have a similar roster to 1989 (then again, very little about college basketball resembles the 1980s at all). However, it is not unreasonable to think that whatever frustrations we've experienced in the regular season, a one-game postseason rematch can go differently. I think, given the strength of the conference, there is both a good chance of a high-level B1G rematch and a good chance that Michigan will win. And on that basis, I think the 1989 comparison may apply.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:37 PM ^

Final Four

I'm not expecting it, but I think anything less can be considered dissapointing...

When you spend the entire season in the Top 10 and you're out before the Sweet 16 after pissing away the B1G championship, then I actually think this season is a failure...



March 10th, 2013 at 10:38 PM ^

At this point, not a lot.  We had a chance for the conference title, and blew it.  That's the most important accomplishment to me.  The Big Dance is a crap shoot based largely on matchups, and though a title or a final four would obviously do it, that's probably not going to happen. I think it's fair to call the season a disappointment based on our conference performance.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

The conference championship is great and all but success in the NCAA tournament, in college basketball at least, is what distinguishes coaches, players, and teams in the history books. This isn't football, the tourney is not just a glorified bowl game. It's about as much of a 'crapshoot' as any sporting event and the strongest team, more often than not, ends up winning the entire damn thing.


March 10th, 2013 at 11:03 PM ^

Yes, I am serious.  Quick, name me the last 24 teams to play in the Elite Eight.  No?  How about 8 of them?  No? Oh well.  Can you, without googling, name all of the Final Four teams from last year?  Now can you name the Big Ten champions?  Me too.

The NCAA tourney is fun and all, but the strongest team does not win it more often than not. It's far more of a crapshoot than the National Title for football.  The Big Ten title gets us a banner. Without that, it's not likely we'll be hanging one.  

At this point, the FF or a title will set things right.  Otherwise, this season was a letdown. I'll cheer like hell for the team, but these things are extremely difficult to get, even for good teams.


March 10th, 2013 at 11:13 PM ^

of course we remember who won the Big Ten last year, because we shared the title. That's like asking, "remember who was in the final four in '92 & '93?" I'm gonna be honest, I can't name any Big Ten champions with certainty beyond last year, but I could probably name the two teams that played in the NCAA championship game for the past 10 years...


March 10th, 2013 at 11:37 PM ^

It's all about NCAA success in college basketball.

The ESPN specials we have been watching about the Fab Five would never have been produced if they had not won Final Fours.

Gene Keady would have given his right arm for a Final Four banner.  Purdue was a perennial Big Ten champion during his time, but was never in the conversation about great teams because of its limited NCAA success.

The '85 and '86 Big Ten champion Michigan teams were some of the best teams in Michigan history.  But there is a shadow over them because of their dissapointing NCAA performances. 

I guarantee that if Michigan makes it to the Final Four and Indiana does not, we'll all be crowing about what a great season this was, and Indiana won't be.




March 11th, 2013 at 12:06 AM ^

Here's the point: If you don't make it to the final four or the title game, people aren't going to give a shit about what you did in the tournament.  Nobody cares who makes it to the Elite Eight.  Now, given that making the Final Four and Title game are extraordinarly difficult and require a little bit of luck along the way, I personally place more importance on the conference title.  

Obviously, IF we made it that far, it would be huge.  But that's not the premise here, is it?


March 11th, 2013 at 12:28 AM ^

It seems kinda watered down when so many teams can and often do share the title. If we make the FF this year, there is no way you can compare this season and last and say are team was more successful last year. Even if we had won this game today and won a share of the regular season title, we'd still not even be the best team in the big ten...so why is it such a big deal in your mind? The FF is the FF!

EDIT: Sorry I think I missread you. Are you saying Big Ten regular season champ > elite eight or final four?


March 11th, 2013 at 12:40 AM ^

How would we not have been the best team in the Big Ten with having the highest ranking and fewest overall losses?

EDIT:  What I'm saying is that given the statisical improbability and uncertaintnies involved in going deep into the tournament, I place more importance on the Conference Title, which represents an entire season of work.  Now, if we were to make it to the Final Four or title game, I think that would be bigger than a conference title.  

Big Ten Champ > Elite Eight

Big Ten Champ < Final Four


March 11th, 2013 at 12:46 AM ^

we would not have had the number 1 seed entering the the btt. We would have been the 3 seed. It's still unclear we would have gotten that 1 seed over Indiana even with a win today.

Just like last year, we won a share of the title, but we were clearly not the best team in the big ten nor did we have the best regular season in the big ten.

I think big ten championship in football >>>>>>>>> basketball in terms of measuring the success for your season. 

But I would still agree with Elight 8 < Big Ten Champ < Final 4


March 11th, 2013 at 2:05 AM ^

If you compare our resume with Indiana's (with a win today), we'd have slightly different seasons but essentially the same level of "success." I could go through and compare and maybe say IU is better, maybe Michigan, but it would be pretty subjective. So I guess this is kind of why the regular season championship isn't that important to me if it's shared. We weren't clearly the best, we were one of the best. In a tournament setting, you go against the best of the best and you do exactly as well as you did. No subjectivity to it. Much cleaner.


March 10th, 2013 at 11:29 PM ^

I'm sure many people around the country can name you the final four teams (or even Elite Eight teams) of the past couple of years over the B1G champions. I'm now even more perplexed; was the purpose of your first sentence to tell me that the Big10 championship is more presigious than a Final four berth? Because that is highly debateable. 

And you're joking if you think that a program like Kansas would give half a fuck if Bill Self had won all those Big12 championships but at the same time had crashed out of the NCAA tournament on the first weekend. Or do you think that Duke considered last year a sucess because they won the ACC championship, regardless of the fact that they lost in the second round of the tournament due to a 'crapshoot' Lehigh performance?

Now, I'm not saying we're at the level of Duke and Kansas nor am I saying that conference championships are usless. But, unless you're new to college basketball and just came over from football, you have to admit that the tournament is the 'meat' of the college basketball season.

" but the strongest team does not win it more often than not."

Like when? What year did you look at the ncaa champion and consider them not worty of that title?

" It's far more of a crapshoot than the National Title for football."

What the balls?

"The Big Ten title gets us a banner. Without that, it's not likely we'll be hanging one.  "

You do realize that a Final Four berth gets us a banner, right?




March 11th, 2013 at 12:40 AM ^

1. Connecticut two years ago. 

2. I'm not sure how to respond to your very insightful "what the balls" comment.

3. Yes, I do, which is why I said that a Final Four WOULD be enough. 

4.  We aren't Kansas or Duke.  We have regional expectations right now, not national.  Sure, a title would fix everything.  That isn't going to happen.

To your main point, I just fundamentally disagree that the NCAA tournament is the meat of the season.  It's a couple of weeks often determined by streaky play and matchups.  I'd much rather have a title from the best conference in the country that make it to the Elite Eight. 


March 11th, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

Aside from Burke, this team is pretty ordinary and disproportionately freshmen. Going into the season, would you have taken 12-6 in the league and 25-6 overall knowing how tough the league is? I suspect you would have.

Agree that anything can happen in the tournament, but I would say it's a good season if we make the sweet 16.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:39 PM ^

Based on expectations coming into this season?  A final 4 is a success. 

Based on what has transpired over the course of the season?  I would be happy with an elite 8 with a chance to go to the final 4.

A Lot of Milk

March 10th, 2013 at 10:41 PM ^

I'm planning on going to the Sweet 16/ Elite 8 rounds assuming we make it that far. If we win those two game, I'd consider it a success. Remember, Beilein hasn't won more than one NCAA tourney game with Michigan a season. But it was always because we ran into brick walls after winning our first game. Oklahoma with Blake Griffin, the Duke game that was a missed floater away from OT, and Ohio (Bobcats). Ok, maybe that last one isn't a brickwall. My head says to be happy with two tourney wins because that would at least show Beilein is improving, but my heart says final four or bust... whatever the case may be, QUEME LOS BARCOS!

M Fanfare

March 10th, 2013 at 10:43 PM ^

B1G Tournament championship game appearence and making it to the Elite Eight. I have a tough time seeing this team in the Final Four, but I do think they're one of the 8 best teams in the country.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:45 PM ^

I don't care at all about the Big Tourney. I would rather UM lose a close game and be motivative then win it and crash out in the real tourney. 

That being said this team should and probably will bow out in the sweet 16. The lack of rebounding and weak permiter D gives too many teams a fighting chance. UM could lose in the 1st round again, they could make a run....There will likely be no easy wins for UM at all.

With the right draw UM could make a Final Four but the same could be said for literally 12-15 teams this year.

What would be needed for me to say "awesome, this season is just gravy?" I'd say that means what would make me feel the team exceeded expectations. For me UM would exceed expectations by reaching the Final Four.

If/when they crash out in Sweet 16 I'll say "that's about right", Anything before sweet 16 and its a disappointment.




March 10th, 2013 at 10:52 PM ^

Anything less than sweet 16 would be a disappointment. Honestly, I don't really care about the BT tournament. At this point it seems anti-climatic. This team has the capability of winning it all.  That's what's so frustrating as a fan.  Last year's team over-achieved through most of the season then fell flat against a senior-laden team that was on a hot streak.  I think it's fair to say this year's team has under-achieved in a few games this year, but the true test will be in the NCAA.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:53 PM ^

to Final Four will ease the pain of missing against PSU and IU for a B1G title.

Great to see us playing big games again, but we need to win the games on national tv to regain our cache with future recruits. Final Four would add a lot of cache and mojo for next year.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:54 PM ^

To me. Yeah it's cute but as long as they get to the semis it's ok.

As for ncaa's;They make it to elite 8 ill be happy. Final four ill be overjoyed. Championship game insanely happy. Champions and ill be jumping with joy and won't have a voice for a week after.


March 10th, 2013 at 10:55 PM ^

Elite 8 would make this a great season and a step in the right  direction for our staff. We haven't gotten out of the first weekend in a long time. That alone though will be a disappointment. An Elite Eight will be a good season given our talent level and how far away we were when JB took over. 


March 10th, 2013 at 11:01 PM ^

Always kind of plugged this team around #10, so Sweet 16 would be slightly underacheiving, and the Elite 8 would be slightly overacheiving.

That said, I think that 30 wins for this team would be a nice total, granted if they get 4 in the BTT and then lose in the 2nd game of the NCAA it would be a terrible disappointment.


At least a BTT semifinal, and sweet 16 would be minimal and anything past a BTT championship and a final four would be "gravy"

Perkis-Size Me

March 10th, 2013 at 11:03 PM ^

Final Four appearance that involves knocking off Duke, followed by wiping the floor with Indiana in the national title game.

Followed by Burke winning the Wooden award and announcing that he's returning for his junior year.

About it in a nutshell.


March 10th, 2013 at 11:23 PM ^

Walking through the options:

- Big Ten regular season championship:  This would have been great, but that door is closed.  Next to a Final Four, this would have been the biggest achievement possible.

- Big Ten Tournament championship:  Not nearly as good or impressive as a Big Ten regular season championship, but it is a tournament win and it's fun to win tournaments (those NIT wins in the past were a lot more fun than they should have been).  The biggest thing is that we get to replace one of the banners that was taken down.

- NCAA Sweet Sixteen:  It sounds good because it has a catchy name, "Sweet Sixteen", but really, after all we have been through this year would any of us be satisfied to say that we are the sixteenth best team in the country?  After being #1 and no less than in the top 10 most of the year?   It is nothing more than a milestone that shows progress is being made.

- NCAA Elite Eight:  This is the opposite of the Sweet Sixteen situation.  Rationally, given where this program has been, to make it to a Regional Final and finish in the top eight is an excellent achievement.  One that any reasonable Michigan fan at this point should consider a successful season.  But I just can't be reasonable about it.

I'm here to tell you it SUCKS to lose in a Regional Final.  A win and you're cutting down nets and hanging Final Four banners.  A loss and . . . nothing.  Nice season, see you next year.  

When we lost to Arkansas in the 1994 Regional Final on a missed Jalen Rose 3 late in the game, it was crushing.  It was not rational, but it felt like a failure.  I even felt bad for some guy named John Beilein back when he was with Pitt and lost in the Regional Final in OT.  

Regional Final losses in the NCAA's are IMO, the toughest losses to take in all of CBB.  An NCAA Elite Eight is a success, but it does not feel like it until months go by.

- NCAA Final Four:  This is clearly an outstanding season for any CBB program.  Anything beyond is gravy.


So, where does that leave us to be able to call this season a success?  Door's closed on the B1G regular season Championship.  Sweet Sixteen would be a letdown.  Final Four is a fantasy.  

So probably the B1G Tournament and/or (rationally) the Elite Eight.





March 10th, 2013 at 11:34 PM ^

Excellent explanation, particularly strong on the frustrations of an Elite Eight loss.

One of the reasons the regional final is so crushing is that, due to it being the same weekend as the Sweet Sixteen but a different weekend than the Final Four, the dropoff in attention is awful. Win and you have a week of hope and talk and Sports Illustrated articles and radio interviews. Lose and you have to spend a week thinking "it could have been us." The dropoff with a Sweet Sixteen loss is nowhere near that sharp.