For the past nine years Michigan basketball season has been a trying time for yours truly. Following the NCAA sanctions, Michigan's once good basketball program was left in ruin and has yet to really come out of it. Every time the Wolverines seem to be turning a corner they slide back. They haven't made the NCAA tournament since 1998 and this year doesn't look to be the one where they break through, and tonight will probably seal the deal.
Tonight the Wolverines head down to Columbus for a meeting with the Buckeyes and "19 year old" phenom Greg Oden. First off there is no way that kid is 19. Did you look at that picture? He has wrinkles! The man looks like he could be LeBron James' uncle. I really need timestamped pictures and a notarized birth certificate here. Beyond the fact that he's obviously older, he's going to eat Michigan alive tonight. Courtney Simms never plays well against a dominate center and Oden is just that. Add this to the fact that the Wolverines can't play on the road (2-5 this season with the wins coming at Northwestern and Miami (OH), neither is a "powerhouse") but they also tend to get blown out when facing good competition as their 38 point loss to UCLA demonstrated. Actually Michigan just tends to lose big period. Of their seven losses this season, five have come by double digits. The sad part is Michigan is starting a team full of Seniors that supposedly had learned from its past of wilting down the stretch. This is a group that has gone to two NIT Finals and was supposed to be ready to take the next step with trip to the NCAA tournament. Apparently that's not the case.
Having lost their last three games and without a "signature" win, the Wolverines are probably playing for their NCAA bid tonight against the Buckeyes. Pulling off a road victory against the #4 team in the country would go a long way to catapulting Michigan towards that coveted NCAA invite, but forgive me if I don't have much confidence in that happening. What I'm expecting is another lopsided road loss that has become a trademark of the Tommy Amaker Era, followed closely by the columnists in Detroit NOT calling for his head. I understand that Amaker is a good guy and he cleaned up the program, but he's had a lot of time and the results just haven't been there. Another nationally televised (ESPN, 7 PM) road blow out should be the final nail in Amaker's coffin, unless Michigan pulls the upset.
Will Michigan pull it off? Probably not. I see Oden going off and Simms disappearing like he normally does. In the end though I'll be sitting and watching and hoping. Hoping that something will click in the Wolverines and they'll finally do something remarkable to get me excited again.
If they don't though at least tomorrow's signing day. That's something right?