April 2, 2013
Michigan in the Final Four
Michigan, seeded fourth in the South Region, emerged as the regional champion with victories over Kansas and Florida last weekend, clinching its fifth official berth to the Final Four. The Wolverines last official appearance in the national semifinals was in 1989, the same season in which it won the national championship. Michigan also earned berths into the Final Four in 1964, 1965 and 1976. In his 35th season as a collegiate head coach, Wolverine mentor John Beilein will make his Final Four debut.
Hunting for the Title
A victory over Syracuse in the national semifinals will send the Wolverines to their fourth official championship game in program history. Michigan is 1-2 all-time in NCAA Championship contests, having defeated Seton Hall in overtime of the 1989 national championship game. The Wolverines advanced to the title game in 1965, where the Wolverines fell to UCLA, and 1976, where they lost to Indiana.
Big Ten Final Four History
With Michigan’s berth in the national semifinals, Big Ten programs have now combined for 43 Final Four appearances, including four in the last five seasons. The Wolverines’ berth in the national semifinals comes on the heels of Ohio State’s appearance in the Final Four a season ago, as well as Michigan State’s back-to-back national semifinal contests in 2009 and 2010. With a victory against Syracuse on Saturday, Michigan would give the Big Ten 22 all-time appearances in the national championship game, and first since Michigan State competed in the 2009 final. A victory by the Wolverines in the title contest would clinch the 11th national title by Big Ten programs.
The Michigan Way
The Wolverines opened with a victory over South Dakota State in the second round, led by 21-point efforts from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. Against fifth-seeded VCU, Michigan posted a 25-point win with Mitch McGary posting a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds. In the regional semifinals against Kansas, the Wolverines rallied from a 14-point deficit with under seven minutes to play, capped by a game-tying three-pointer from Trey Burke to force overtime. In extra time, Michigan ultimately earned an 87-85 victory to advance to the regional final. Burke became the first player to score at least 20 points and have 10 or more assists in a Sweet 16 game since Providence’s Billy Donovan in 1987. Donovan and the third-seeded Florida Gators awaited Michigan in the regional final, and behind a 22-point effort from Nik Stauskas, in which he converted on all six of his three-point attempts, the Wolverines defeated the Gators, 79-59, to advance to the Final Four. Through their four games, the Wolverines are averaging 78.75 points per game, second among this year’s Final Four teams.
Hawk-eyes on the Title
After posting wins in the first three rounds of the NIT, Iowa is two victories away from earning the annual tournament championship. The Hawkeyes advanced to the tournament’s semifinals for the first time and look to claim the conference’s ninth NIT championship. It marks the second straight season a Big Ten teams has advanced to the NIT semifinals as Minnesota advanced to the tournament title game last season. Penn State is the most recent Big Ten squad to capture the NIT championship, having won the crown in 2009.
Tracking the Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes took care of their home court with wins in the first two rounds. In the round of 32 against Indiana State, Roy Devyn Marble poured in 24 points to lead the Hawkeyes and Aaron White finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds in a 68-52 win. Marble once again led the way offensively in Iowa’s second-round win over Stony Brook by scoring 28 points in the 75-63 victory. The Hawkeyes visited Virginia in the quarterfinal round, where three players scored in double-figures, led by Marble’s 24, to secure a 75-64 victory and a spot in the tournament’s semifinals in Madison Square Garden.
Entering this week’s national semifinals, the seven Big Ten teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament have combined for 13 victories, tied for third-most all-time and the most combined wins by conference programs since 14 official triumphs in 2000. It marks the 10th time in Big Ten history the conference’s NCAA Tournament participating programs have combined for 10 or more wins in a single postseason and the fourth time the teams have totaled 13 or more wins. The Big Ten’s postseason record for wins was set during the 1989 NCAA Tournament, when the five participating teams combined for 15 wins, led by Michigan’s run to the national championship. Conference teams also combined for 13 official NCAA Tournament wins in 1992.
Earning Regional Honors
Following the completion of regional play, five Big Ten standouts were named to their respective All-Region teams. Winners of the South Region, Michigan placed three players on the All-Region squad, including Most Outstanding Player Trey Burke, along with Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas. After falling in the regional final, two Ohio State players were named to the West All-Region team in LaQuinton Ross and Deshaun Thomas. Thomas becomes just the third Buckeye to be named to multiple All-Region teams, joining John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas (1960-61-62).
Piling Up the Wins
With its victory over Florida in the regional final, Michigan recorded its 30th victory of the season, marking just the second time in program history the Wolverines have officially reached the milestone. Michigan totaled 30 victories in the 1988-89 season, the same year the Wolverines won the national championship. In addition, Indiana and Ohio State each completed the season with 29 victories, marking the first time in Big Ten history three teams finished the year with 29 or more victories. The Big Ten will be the only conference in the country to have three teams finish the season with 29 or more triumphs.
An NCAA To Remember
Seven Big Ten teams were selected to participate in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, tied for the most in conference history. The seven conference squads combined for 10 victories through the first weekend of play, the most in Big Ten history and tied for second-most of any conference since 1985. Four Big Ten teams won their first two games of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16, matching the conference record of squads to advance to the second weekend, and it marked the first time in conference history the Big Ten sent four squads to the regional semifinals in consecutive seasons. In addition, for the first time since the 2005 season, two Big Ten teams advanced to the regional finals as both Michigan and Ohio State reached the Elite Eight.
Four Big Ten standouts were named All-Americans by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Associated Press (AP) and the John R. Wooden Award. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas were named to the 10-member Wooden team, the most of any conference, while the four were each named among the three All-America squads by the NABC and AP. Oladipo and Burke were named first-team honorees by the NABC and AP, making the Big Ten the only conference with multiple first-team selections. Zeller was named a second-team All-American by both groups, making the Hoosiers one of two programs in the country with multiple honorees, while Thomas was named a third-team All-American by both groups.
Among the Finalists
Two Big Ten standouts were named among the four finalists for the 2013 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke were selected among the final four, who were chosen based on their individual performances throughout the regular season. The Big Ten has had four previous winners of the Naismith Award, including Indiana’s Scott May in 1976, Indiana’s Calbert Cheaney in 1993, Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994 and Ohio State’s Evan Turner in 2010. This year’s winner will be announced on April 7.
A Season of Top-10 Matchups
With no fewer than three teams ranked among the polls’ top 10 for 10 of the 11 weeks of conference play, the Big Ten saw a record nine matchups of top-10 foes during the conference season. Five of those matchups included Indiana, which went a perfect 5-0 in those matchups. Michigan played in the most top-10 games of any conference team this season, posting a 3-3 mark against teams ranked among the top 10. Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State have also taken part in games featuring top-10 teams.