The Michigan men’s basketball team learned its fate for the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The Wolverines will be the number one seed in the East Region. This is the first time since 1993 that Michigan has been named a number one seed. The Wolverines are the fourth ranked No. 1 seed behind Gonzaga, Baylor and Illinois.
“I was excited to see that we were seeded number one because it proved that this team, this team of players and staff that have worked so hard to get to this point right here,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said in a video recording provided by the athletic department. “It’s been a very long journey, at times it’s been stressful but the highs are outweighing the lows. Our guys have worked so hard, so they deserve to be in this position so I’m so proud of them. The real work starts now.
Michigan’s first matchup will be on Saturday against the winner of a play-in game between No. 16 seeds Mount St. Mary’s and Texas Southern. Should the Wolverines take care of business, they will take on the winner of the matchup between No. 8-seeded LSU and No. 9-seeded St. Bonaventure on Monday.
The other top seeds in Michigan’s region are No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Texas, and No. 4 Florida State.
Despite winning a Big Ten regular season title, the Wolverines finished the season with three losses in their last five games. They last played against the Buckeyes in a 68-67 loss in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Michigan, however, believes its Big Ten schedule has provided perfect practice for the tournament.
“It’s gonna help so much,” graduate guard Mike Smith said. “The Big Ten is essentially a March Madness bracket itself. It’s hard, each and every day, you’re competing against the best of the best.”
The Wolverines earned their way to a top seed with 20 wins. Despite that, many may write them off due to the loss of senior forward Isaiah Livers. For Michigan, though, these next three weeks will be about finishing what it started.
“I never forget going back to my press conference, when I said I have unfinished business,” Howard said. “This is the unfinished business.”