No. 2 seed Michigan’s first opponent in the 2014 NCAA basketball Tournament is the No. 15 seed Wofford Terriers, fresh off their impressive Southern Conference Tournament victory. The Terriers (20-12, 11-5) earned their automatic bid to the Big Dance by sweeping such powerhouses as The Citadel, Georgia Southern and Western Carolina.
Michigan, despite its loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament final, dominated the nation’s No. 2 conference with a 15-3 record, including two wins apiece over Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois and Purdue.
The only common opponent to Michigan and Wofford is Minnesota, which drubbed Wofford 79-57 in Minneapolis. The Terriers also lost to to VCU, 72-57, the team which Michigan crushed 78-53 in last year’s Big Dance.
Mountaineers will be back
Wolverine fans might be familiar with another Southern Conference team, Appalachian State, but that deals with another sport.
Michigan has been listed as 15.5-point favorites by Vegas Insider but upsets, and plenty of them, will occur in first few rounds.
The tournament isn’t known as March Madness for nothing, as both Michigan and its rival up north are well aware of.
Back in 1990, Michigan State came into the tournament as a No. 1 seed, but was forced into overtime before defeating No. 16 Murray State 75-71.
Just two years ago, No. 13 seed Ohio shocked Michigan 65-60 in the round of 64 and further made coach John Beilein a believer that seeds can be deceiving.
Beilein took part in an upset victory, too. In 1998, his first Richmond team won the CAA tournament and entered The Dance as a No. 14 seed. The Richmond Spiders then knocked off No. 3 South Carolina in the first round.
Site doesn’t matter
“I’ve never seen so much wasted energy on who is seeded where. I mean, it is incredible,” Beilein said Sunday, shortly after losing to the Spartans and before the bracket was announced. “I don’t care where we’re seeded. I don’t care where we play.”
The Wolverines gained tremendous experience in last year’s tournament, making it all the way to the title game before falling to Louisville. All but regulars Derrick Walton, Jr. and Zak Irvin were part of the scene.
“I think our team is pretty mature that way and they realize this because of what they did last year,” Beilein said. “They’re just kids that sort of ‘get it’ a little bit and realize that at this time of year, everybody can really play.”
So before we totally discount the possibility of Wofford defeating Michigan Thursday (7:10 pm ET, Mar. 20, CBS), we should understand that Wofford is located in Spartanburg, SC. ♦
The term, “March Madness” (was actually) born in Illinois. The annual tournament of high school boys basketball teams, sponsored by the Illinois High School Association, grew from a small invitational affair in 1908 to a statewide institution with over 900 schools competing by the late 1930′s. A field of teams known as the “Sweet Sixteen” routinely drew sellout crowds to the University of Illinois’ Huff Gymnasium. In a time before television, before the college game became popular with the average fan, before professional leagues had established a foothold in the nation’s large cities, basketball fever had already reached epidemic proportions in the Land of Lincoln.
Other terms in the Tournament Glossary (from Sparknotes)
The NIT: A once-great tournament that now consists of teams that are, by definition, worse than Cornell (2-26, 1-13). Here’s an SAT-style analogy for you: The NCAA Tournament is to The NIT as The Prom is to Not getting invited to the prom and holding your own prom in your basement with stuffed animals.
“The Big Dance:” Term for the NCAA Tournament clearly invented to make fun of teams who have to settle for going to the NIT. “So, Baylor, who are you taking to The Big Dance? Ohhh, you weren’t invited…”
Cinderella Team: In the story, Prince Charming rejects all the women he sees until he meets Cinderella, with whom he falls in love and eventually marries. In basketball, everyone ignores the Cinderella team until it starts winning; the team advances through the tournament thanks to magic and fairies and wonderment, whereupon its carriage suddenly turns into a pumpkin (it loses to Kansas).
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer
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