Shep's Take: Michigan's Convincing Journey

Michigan’s basketball team, before each meeting and after every game, responds to a statement made by Head Coach John Beilein.

Beilein says, “We are…”

Players say, “Michigan”

Beilein: “And we value…”

Players: “Michigan Excellence”

Beilein: “And if we play….”

Players: “Defense.”

Beilein: “We will be….”

Players: “Champions.”

They aren’t there yet, but UM is getting closer and you’d be foolish to pick against them right now. 

Nobody outside the Michigan locker room thought this was possible six weeks ago.

Following a four point home loss to Ohio State, doubters, haters and nay-sayers were everywhere.

The three game winning streak that ensued was ignored, instead most would focus on the soon-to-be overtime loss at Minnesota.

A road kill at Rutgers was expected and a home knockout of Purdue was viewed as a “senior day emotional lift.”

Negativity then resurfaced in a last second loss at Northwestern before a blowout win at Nebraska was glossed over as a precursor to, what was expected to be, a short term stay in the Big Ten Tournament.

What people failed to recognize that since a loss at Illinois, dating back to January 11th, UM was “in” every game. 

The five following losses were by an average of 4.5 points per game.

What they couldn’t digest was that Michigan was getting better defensively; the players were buying into assistant coach Billy Donlan’s tough-love challenges of taking pride in their defense.

Now, fast forward through a plane crash, a conference tournament crown, and a sweet 16 berth and suddenly the Wolverines have become the “darlings” of the NCAA tournament.

This seven game winning streak is no fluke man.

This team is supremely confident; totally connected and absorbed in every film session (and there are many) it attends.

For some, this Michigan team has already surpassed expectations.

But just remember, it’s not your expectation this team acknowledges.

It has its own lofty goals and those goals have been outlined and stated since the first day of practice.

The Wolverines don’t care if you share in their belief or not, although my guess is they're starting to change your mind.

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