Michigan Flies (Or Not So Much) Into Sweet 16
If you’re a college basketball fan, you’re definitely absorbed in March Madness just as I am. If you watched the Big 10 Tournament you might’ve noticed the University of Michigan squad wearing yellow jerseys with navy shorts in their game against Illinois. No that wasn’t one of their alternative jersey combos, it was their practice jerseys. This was because the day prior, they were in a plane crash leaving Michigan to come to D.C.
The team was flying out of Willow Run Airport, but the weather wasn’t so hot that day. A meteorologist said at 2:53 that afternoon, around the time the flight was set to depart, winds were blowing at 33 mph and gusting at 53 mph. Needless to say, this would cause problems and not too long after takeoff the flight was aborted. The plane crashed back onto the runway and slid off of it. Luckily everyone was okay. Head Coach John Beilein said, “We’ve got a few people banged up a little. A few cuts a few bruises, but other than that, everybody’s healthy”. The team decided to wait until the next morning to fly out to avoid another failed takeoff. They met at 6:00 a.m., flew out of Detroit Metro at 7:30, landed in D.C. at 8:45 and played Illinois that day at noon.
Maybe this adversity fueled the Wolverines because they looked great in the tournament. They were the #8 seed and crushed Illinois 75-55, beat #1 seed Purdue by 4 in OT, defeated Minnesota by 7 to head to the finals where they breezed past Wisconsin 71-56 to win the Big 10 title. 4 wins in 4 days is no easy feat but the Maize and Blue didn’t stop there. On Selection Sunday they were seeded 7th in the Midwest Region against Oklahoma State. The Wolverines won a nail-biter 92-91 behind Derrick Walton Jr.’s 26 points. The team also shot a whopping 16-29 from the 3-point line. They then carried their momentum into a big game against #2 seeded Louisville. This was another dogfight, but the Wolverine's survived the Cardinals’ late comeback attempt. Moritz Wagner led the way with career-high 26 points while Walton Jr. hit a clutch contact layup to seal the win and send the team to the Sweet 16.
Needless to say, Michigan is on a hot streak. They face the #3 seeded Oregon Ducks, who barely escaped an upset from Rhode Island on Sunday. The Wolverines have a chance to go to the Elite Eight for the first time in 3 years and while I’m not necessarily a fan of the team, I can’t help but root for them after what they’ve been through.