It’s awards season in Hollywood, and I’d like to create a special Oscar for the Michigan men’s basketball team: best performance by an ensemble.
Because after the first half of last night’s game, the Wolverines had everyone believing an NCAA Tournament bid was possible.
But just like in the movies, you can’t believe everything you see.
As fast as a 20-1 Hawkeye run (which lasted 8:47 by the way), the Wolverines’ chance at an NCAA Tournament bid had all but vanished.
Now we’re left wondering whether we really want to watch another NIT first-round game, or stay home to watch “The Office,” instead.
The loss is bad enough when you consider Michigan dropped an 11-point halftime lead at home. But it’s suicide when you consider the rest of Michigan’s schedule.
Three of Michigan’s next five games are on the road (Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois, not to mention a home date with Indiana). After that stretch, the Wolverines will travel to Minnesota (which looks scarier than it did before last night) and end the season at home against the Spartans and the Buckeyes.
With the way Michigan has been playing recently, if it wins three games the rest of the year, it should consider itself lucky. And that would mean just a 7-9 Big Ten record.
Last time I checked, a losing conference record doesn’t look too good to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
When asked if he sensed that this year will be any different than last year, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker seemed unsure.
“We’re going to find out,” Amaker said. “I’m confident that our kids are going to stay after it, and they’re going to keep plugging and fighting and that’s what our goal is right now.”
Great logic if you’re coaching at the local YMCA. Not so good if you’re coaching a Division I program that hasn’t sniffed the Tourney in nearly 10 years.
And that’s been just the problem with Michigan this season. After each embarrassing loss, the overall sentiment has been “We’ll get them next time.” There has been a lot of talking and not enough doing.
But who’s to blame?
The fans don’t know.
In the crowd, people argued over whether Amaker or Athletic Director Bill Martin is the reason this program settles for mediocrity. Others pointed the finger at the players, especially the seniors and their poor performance down the stretch.
But you can put a little bit on everyone.
Martin for not pulling the trigger on Amaker sooner.
Amaker for not contributing to the individual improvement of any senior on this team.
And the players for getting too comfortable last night.
They figured the Hawkeyes would crumble on the road, just like the Wolverines have done numerous times. Michigan believed that its NCAA Tournament hopes were going to live another day.
But now they’re gone.
– Bosch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.