Michigan’s win over Minnesota on Saturday was a major step forward for the men’s basketball program.
It could also be the start of two very fun weeks for students.
Nothing is set in stone, but Michigan greatly increased its chances of making the NCAA Tournament with that win (fingers crossed). A win in the Big Ten Tournament this week will help solidify that spot in the Big Dance.
None of us were here the last time Michigan’s name was called on Selection Sunday (except those 10th-year seniors). That could very well change in six days.
If Michigan’s name is called, the excitement level on this campus is going to reach a level it hasn’t seen since the football team went to Columbus with an 11-0 record in 2006.
Students are primed to succumb to March Madness, and this year the basketball team is giving them the chance.
The Wolverines’ spot in the tournament and many of the following events depend on what happens in conference tournaments around the country, but here are a few ideas for how the Athletic Department can take advantage of the opportunity to make this campus live and die by Michigan basketball in the next two weeks:
The students should get to enjoy the fun of March Madness, too, starting with a Selection Show party at Crisler Arena on Sunday. After years of watching students on campuses across the country celebrate their team making the tournament, Michigan students have earned their chance to do the same.
In general, pep rallies are lame. But if Michigan makes the tournament, the student body should get a chance to send the team off before it heads out for its first game.
And if Michigan gets placed in a regional within reasonable driving distance, the Athletic Department should arrange buses to take as many students to the game as want to go.
Only a few hundred students bought season tickets this year, but that number will go up for next season. Winning always builds a bigger fanbase, and involving the fans in the excitement of this experience will help it grow even more.
And those are just the possibilities before Michigan even plays a tournament game.
If the Wolverines happen to play on Thursday afternoon, the University may as well cancel classes because every student is going to be watching, even the ones who don’t usually care about basketball.
Provided the Wolverines make the tournament, it will be exciting to see how March Madness takes over this campus.
Just consider how nuts this campus goes for March Madness when Michigan isn’t in the field. The bars are always packed, brackets are littered around campus, lecture halls are empty on Thursday and Friday, and students who do go to class are watching the games online.
By adding a significant rooting interest in the results, March Madness on this campus is going to reach a scale we’ve never seen.
It’s been 10 years since Michigan last made the tournament, which means a lot of students have graduated without getting to enjoy what we may get to this March.
If we get that chance, let’s not take it for granted.
— Sandals reminds readers of his Jan. 26 column and encourages them to go watch Michigan Water Polo in the Wolverine Invitational this weekend at Canham Natatorium. He can be reached at email@example.com.