Michigan basketball will contend again for national title, just not next season
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Do you think Michigan can contend for the national championship again next year? — Angel Jeff Parker, via Facebook
Michigan’s Final Four run set another benchmark for the program, but don’t expect a berth in the national title game to become an annual happening for the Wolverines. That’s not a slight against the Wolverines. Instead, it’s evidence of how cyclical college basketball has become.
Coaches can build programs into perennial contenders, but the last team to repeat as national champion was Florida in 2006-07. Before that, it was Duke in 1991-92. Then before that, it was the dynasty that was John Wooden’s teams at UCLA. The Bruins won every national championship from 1964 to 1973, save for 1966 when Texas Western (now UTEP) won the title.
The game has changed so much since then. So has the culture of college basketball. It simply doesn’t allow for one team to dominate anymore.
Now it is so hard to make the same deep run on an annual basis, unless you’re a blue blood like Duke or Kansas. Even then, the odds aren’t always in your favor. Look at Villanova. The Wildcats won the national title in 2016, but lost in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Michigan can use this run as it continues to craft a program that will be among the elite in college basketball, especially under the watch of John Beilein.
Some of Michigan’s future success depends on who stays and who leaves. Moritz Wagner will likely head to the NBA, and Charles Matthews’ future at Michigan also hangs in the balance. But the Wolverines roster has 11 players who are either freshman or sophomores,who gained valuable postseason experience.
The better question to ask after the national title game is, “how can Michigan best use this run to invest in the future?”
Beilein has done this before. He already has the blueprint from 2013 and now 2018. He’ll make it work for the future of the program.
Michigan won’t be back in the Final Four next year. Expect deep runs and high expectations, though, two or three years down the line.
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