The Michigan basketball team plays Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four semifinals Saturday in San Antonio.
Former Michigan and NFL running back Chris Howard says the 2017-18 team isn’t the best Michigan basketball team ever. Land of 10 reporter Rachel Lenzi says this is the best Michigan basketball team in program history.
Q: IS THE 2017-18 MICHIGAN BASKETBALL TEAM THE BEST IN PROGRAM HISTORY?
RACHEL LENZI: YES
The 2017-18 Michigan basketball team can go down in history as the best Wolverines squad ever. Winning a national championship Monday night in San Antonio will solidify it.
It’s an unpopular opinion, but it’s come out of the evolution of the sport at the college level.
Give credit to the 1989 national championship team and the Fab Five teams of Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. Those teams paved the path for the greatness of this team.
The Wolverines face Loyola-Chicago on Saturday in a national semifinal. If John Beilein’s team wins the national championship on Monday, it will supplant the Fab Five as the best Michigan team ever. The Fab Five left Michigan without a national title. The 2017-18 Wolverines can outdo those teams.
What makes this team — the second John Beilein-coached Michigan team in five years to reach the Final Four — great is its depth and versatility. CBS Sports reporter Dennis Dodd called this group “Gumbys.”
“You can stretch them, you can hit them, you can throw them up against the wall, they’ll play any way you want,” Dodds said earlier this week on the Jim Rome Show. “That’s why they’re one of the most dangerous teams there.”
It is a testament to the Wolverines. It is their identity. This team can do so much with the resources it has. It can go beyond its limits.
Look at what Michigan has pulled off in the tournament, from Jordan Poole’s game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer — which wasn’t just divine intervention, with all due respect to Loyola’s Sister Jean — against Houston in the second round, to the way it neutralized Florida State’s inside presence in the Elite Eight.
Beilein continues to outsmart Michigan’s opponents. Don’t let his affable demeanor fool you. Beilein and his team go for the kill on the court. We’re in a time when college basketball faces a certain reckoning. The specter of an FBI investigation hovers over some of the nation’s highest-profile programs, yet Beilein has kept his program nearly pristine off the court.
Heck, Beilein admonished former Wolverines guard Spike Albrecht during a recruiting visit years ago because he ordered a dessert made with alcohol. Beilein didn’t want to run the risk of enabling underage drinking.
If that isn’t accountability to the nth degree, then what is?
The 2017-18 Wolverines, if they win the championship, will eclipse the greatness of previous Michigan basketball teams.