Friday, November 21, 2008

A Michigan Rennaissance Weekend?

At least that's the thought running through everybody's mind after the Michigan basketball team found a way to upset No. 4 UCLA last night. Think about it, an upset over UCLA last night, maybe an even bigger upset over Duke tonight, and then top it all off with the upset of all upsets over Ohio State on Saturday to revitalize what has been a decaying athletic department.

Wait what's that? Oh, it's the we're jumping way too far ahead of ourselves machine. Yes that win over UCLA last night was the signature victory John Beilein has been searching for since he came here two Aprils ago, but did anyone actually watch the game? What I'm trying to say is No. 4 UCLA is going to prove to be much worse than that as the season wears on. In fact, the whole Pac-10 is way down this season and I see the Bruins as no more than a fringe top-25 team.

And frankly this is a team John Beilein has always had success. Hell, this Michigan team was leading a much better Bruin team last year with nine minutes remaining in the second half before succumbing to its own general crapiness, a theme that resonated throughout the 2007-08 campaign. And Beilein also beat Ben Howland two years before this with his final West Virginia squad.

In fact, I'm confident enough to say I saw Michigan play better last season when I had to sit through hours upon hours of mediocre basketball. If Beilein pulls that proverbial rabbit out of his hat tonight and Michigan beats Duke, then I think we can officially say the John Beilein era of crazy good three point shooters and back cutters is upon us.

Honestly, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but as soon as the buzzer sounded and Michigan had officially pulled off the biggest upset of this young college basketball season, my first thought was "God dammit, I sat through two years of terribleness just to witness one game like this." And of course it happened three games after I stopped covering the team. I think I'm going to be bitter once the basketball bandwagon gets going just because there's little to no chance that most of the fans that come out of the woodwork suffered through even 10 minutes of last season's games.

But whatever, I guess it's good for the program. I've always liked Beilein (especially when he picked up the tab for me and my friends at Damons towards the end of the season last year. I've kept that a secret awhile, for journalistic reasons of course). And I've always liked DeShawn Sims, so it was nice to see him be the deciding factor down the stretch.

Like I said, though, I think one win is not something that should promote mass Michigan basketball hysteria. The team is certainly better than a year ago and they will definitely win more than 10 games if only because the schedule is a whole lot easier. Do I think it's the break through year where Michigan finally ends its NCAA Tournament drought? Probably not. Now if they beat Duke tonight (again I'm saying highly unlikely) I might have to change my opinion.

So yeah, maybe it's because of all the losses I sat through the past two seasons, but I'm taking the cautious approach as it pertains to Michigan basketball. As for the woeful football team, I've been saving my hell and brimstone post for after Saturday's game. For a little preview, I'll let you know, no matter the outcome tomorrow, I'm steaming mad ... at MICHIGAN FANS!

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