Michigan is off to the Final Four for the first time since 1993—I didn’t think it would be 20 years between appearances. I also thought more than one Big Ten team would be headed to Atlanta for the Final Four. Nonetheless, let’s celebrate Michigan! And, let’s start the daily links here.
Wolverines’ fans will remember the 1993 Final Four junket as the infamous “Chris Webber timeout game,” as Michigan fell to North Carolina aided in part by Webber calling a timeout late that the Wolverines didn’t have. That’s a technical, pal. But unlike that team whose legacy and honors were stripped because of NCAA rules violations, the Final Four banner for this squad won’t be removed.
The Wolverines can thank Trey Burke, who helped push Michigan past No. 3-seed Florida on Sunday despite dealing with a stomach bug and back pain. What a trooper.
And here are some images from the Wolverines’ big Elite Eight win on Sunday.
Michigan will play fellow No. 4-seed Syracuse in Atlanta at the Final Four, the Wolverines’ seventh such trip.
IOWA STILL IN ACTION, TOO: Michigan isn’t the only Big Ten school still playing. Iowa is, too. The Hawkeyes will play Maryland in the NIT Final Four on Tuesday. No doubt, this run could help the Hawkeyes in recruiting.
ALFORD TO UCLA: Speaking of Iowa, former Hawkeyes coach Steve Alford was named the new coach at UCLA over the weekend. The move left some understandable shaking their head. Would any other coach with his resume get the UCLA job is they weren’t named “Steve Alford”? Of course not. Good luck, Bruins.
BUCKEYES REACT TO ELITE EIGHT LOSS: Ohio State’s loss to Wichita State in the Elite Eight was a stunner. Many felt the No. 2 Buckeyes could advance to the Final Four for a second season in a row, especially working through a West Region that had seen the No. 1, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds all lose. But the No. 9 Shockers had other plans. Check out these videos of Aaron Craft, Thad Matta, Deshaun Thomas, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., and LaQuinton Ross.
LAQUINTON TIME: Ohio State should be set up for a big run next season. Evan Ravenel is the lone senior, but junior Deshaun Thomas could turn pro. Still, Craft, Smith, Ross, Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson and Amir Williams will form a nice nucleus for next season. In fact, Ross really enjoyed a coming out party in the tourney and gave us a preview of things to come.
DISAPPOINTING LOSS: Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the loss to Wichita State wasn’t a shock—but it was a big disappointment.
ABOUT THE HOOSIERS’ LOSS: Indiana is left to wonder “what if?” after it flamed out vs. Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star wonders if the Hoosiers would be headed to the Final Four if they had played in the Midwest Region instead of the East.
I don’t think it would have mattered. The Indiana guards would have been exposed at some point—regardless of the region.
LET’S LOOK AT THE SPARTANS: Michigan State is pointing forward on this Monday after losing to Duke in the Sweet 16. Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press takes a player-by-player look at the roster.
SURGERY FOR HARRIS? For freshman sensation Gary Harris, surgery may be in his future. The guy’s shoulder never seemed right.
LOOKING AHEAD IN CHAMPAIGN: Illinois’ season is over, too. So, it’s time to look toward 2013-14. Marcus Jackson of the Champaign News-Gazette peeks ahead.
No doubt, John Groce will have work to do with players like Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Sam McLaurin and Tyler Griffey all gone. Getting back to the NCAA tourney may be difficult.
BRIGHT DAYS AHEAD FOR PURDUE: Like Illinois, Purdue also is focused on next season. And, it can’t get here quickly enough for a Boilermakers’ program coming off its first losing season since Matt Painter’s debut in 2005-06.
Some tough news: Sandi Marcius is opting out of his final season of eligibility to play elsewhere next season. The guy really came on as the season wound down and would have been an asset.
WHO’S IT GOING TO BE, MINNESOTA? Minnesota’s quest for a coach continues. The latest: ex-Golden Gopher Flip Saunders told his alma mater: Thanks, but no thanks. Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press thinks the rejection is an embarrassment to Minnesota. Maybe. A bit. But, that’s too harsh.
Now, what’s next?
OTHER GOPHER TARGETS: Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune thinks Xavier’s Chris Mack, Marquette’s Buzz Williams and Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield could be targets.
WHAT ABOUT NEBRASKA’S DEFENSE? Nebraska’s spring game is this coming Saturday. How will the much-scrutinized defense look?
Word is the maligned defense has been battered from time to time by the Huskers’ prolific offense. Well, we’ll all get an up-close look soon. Nebraska’s defense was, well, gashed in four losses last season. That unit must replace eight starters, including six of last season’s starting front seven, and both safeties.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
Kudos to Michigan. Coming out of BIG tourney Wolverines didn't look poised for FF run. Great job.—
Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) March 31, 2013
My take: Few outside of Michigan saw this coming.
Nik Stauskas' personal record for consecutive 3s made in practice: 38. Did it at Crisler.—
Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) April 01, 2013
My take: I can believe this.
Michigan on one-day prep is apparently a nightmare for opponents — crushed VCU, crushed Florida.—
Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 01, 2013
My take: So, that means if Michigan can get to the title game on Monday night, it should win it all.
After Kevin Ware injury had flashback to exBadger Tim Krumrie breaking tib & fib in Super Bowl XXIII. Had 15-inch steel rod inserted in leg.—
Mike Lucas (@LucasAtLarge) April 01, 2013
My take: For those of you who remember this, you can vouch for the gruesomeness.
The Louisville guard play is outstanding. That's a difference maker today, and was for IU-Syracuse. Hoosiers must get better there.—
Pete DiPrimio (@pdiprimio) March 31, 2013
My take: No doubt, the Indiana guard play vs. Temple and Syracuse was sub-par. Yogi Ferrell, it’s time to step it up.
Siva and Smith vs. Burke and Hardaway Please! Please! Please! Ideal NCAA final.—
PiPress Gophers Now (@GophersNow) March 31, 2013
My take: This would be a terrific matchup. We can only hope.