Michigan basketball is in its seventh National Championship Game in program history and will battle the winner of the Kansas-Villanova semifinal for the title on Monday night.
The Wolverines’ most-recent Final Four appearance came in 2013. That team made it to the National Championship Game, where it lost to a Louisville team that has since been stripped of its title (no, that title doesn’t just go to Michigan). That was also the year Trey Burke hit his famous 30-footer to send the Wolverines to the Elite Eight.
Here are Michigan’s other six Final Four appearances
- 1993 — Lost in National Championship Game to North Carolina
- 1992 — Lost in National Championship Game to Duke
- 1989 — Won national championship over Seton Hall
- 1976 — Lost National Championship Game to Indiana
- 1965 — Lost National Championship Game to UCLA
- 1964 — Lost Final Four game to Duke
That one national championship has quite the footnote: Michigan dumped its head coach before the tournament
Michigan’s 1989 team entered the season with a lot more hype than this 2017-18 Michigan team did. Coach Bill Frieder’s team was No. 3 in the preseason AP Top 25 in his ninth season in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines had future NBA All-Star Glen Rice front and center. He averaged 26 points per game that season, 10 points more than Wolverines’ second-leading scorer Rumeal Robinson.
Michigan was 21-6 at the end of the regular season, finishing 10th in the pre-NCAA Tournament AP Poll. But things were not well in Ann Arbor, especially between Frieder and athletic director/football coach Bo Schembechler. CBS interviewed Frieder about it in 2013:
“When Schembechler became the athletic director, he gave me no indication he would be behind basketball the way I needed him to be behind it,” Frieder said. “Arizona State had been recruiting me and my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s take a shot.’ ”
It was Tuesday morning and the team was departing for Atlanta the following day when the news broke that Frieder had verbally agreed to take the Sun Devils job.
“I decided to be completely upfront and honest,” Frieder said. “I didn’t want to mislead my players, the community or the media. I told everyone I was going to Arizona State.”
The whole thing was more reminiscent of the craziness involving college football coaching searches. But with Frieder’s admission that he was going to Arizona State, Schembechler fired him right there.
”I don’t want someone from Arizona State coaching the Michigan team,” Schembechler said at the time. ”A Michigan man is going to coach Michigan.”
(Notable: Frieder was a Michigan man, having completed his undergrad and graduate education at the university.)
Frieder stayed at Arizona State for eight seasons, making two NCAA Tournaments before resigning after a points-shaving scandal. With Frieder out, Michigan assistant Steve Fisher was elevated to head coach.
Michigan didn’t miss a beat with its new coach, and made a run to the Final Four
The Wolverines received a No. 3 seed in the tournament (same as this year) and beat No. 13 seed Xavier, No. 11 seed South Alabama, No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 5 seed Virginia on the way to the Final Four.
Once in the Final Four, Michigan squeaked by Illinois thanks to a last-minute steal by Rice, and on to the title game the Wolverines went. Rice averaged 31 points in the tournament, and scored 31 in Michigan’s title game victory over Seton Hall.
That championship wasn’t without controversy, as Michigan was down 79-78 when Seton Hall’s Gerald Greene was called for a blocking foul that enabled Rumeal Robinson to sink two free throws to give the Wolverines the win.