Michigan may have lost today, but really, it was a good day for the Wolverines. The Spartans thumped Michigan in Indianapolis, ending what was a positive Big Ten Tournament for Beilein’s team on a sour note. But not even an hour later, the loss was pushed far away, as the NCAA Tournament bracket was released and Michigan’s path to return to the Final Four was set.
And Michigan shouldn’t have much trouble pushing today’s loss out of their minds as they head into Thursday’s matchup with the mighty Terriers of Wofford. It is nearly impossible to beat the same team three times in a season, so it shouldn’t be a shock, or even worrisome, that Michigan couldn’t pull off the trifecta against Michigan State. The Spartans outworked a Michigan team that seemed tired and generally out of sync. If anything, it’s best that they got this game out of their system when a loss doesn’t yet end their season.
But now, the second Michigan loses, the off-season begins. The good news is, Michigan doesn’t seem to pout over losses. Instead, they respond. After Michigan’s last three losses they came back and beat Nebraska by 29, Ohio State by 10 in Columbus and Michigan State by 9 in East Lansing, respectively. So the Terriers, as yappy as they may be, stand even less of a chance than any other 15 seed has.
From there, it becomes a crapshoot for Michigan. They’ll be favored in their next game, against Texas or Arizona State, but it’s March Madness. They could just as easily make another Final Four run as not make the Sweet 16, as the randomness of a single knockout tournament comes into play.
But all that the Wolverines can look at now is a new road. The season starts fresh again; everyone has a clean slate. Michigan’s good enough to beat anyone, but will they? Now the real fun begins.
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