The general consensus is that Michigan secured their at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament Thursday with their win against Iowa. In a tough Big Ten, Michigan was able to roller coaster-ride their way to a 9-9 record.
So they are just another one-and-done team in the NCAA Tournament, right?
Maybe. Or maybe, this team will make some noise. They have beaten UCLA on a neutral floor and have beaten Duke. Many people forget that they actually played Duke twice, once on a neutral floor. They held their own for about 32 minutes of that game, before Duke took control in the final minutes.
And then, right in the middle of the Big Ten season, there was a little-known game against Conneticut in Storrs, Conneticut. Michigan came out rattled, quickly falling down 8-1. But they punched back, and Uconn was stunned for awhile, before they took control late in that game.
Do those facts make them dangerous?
Maybe. If they don't convince you, I'll give you some more.
Michigan has two players that can take over a game at anytime, Deshawn Sims and Manny Harris. In the game at Northwestern, the Wildcats had Manny "fresh" shut down in the first half, holding him to one point in the first half.
In the second half, Manny reminded them that they can hold him down for awhile, but not long enough, scoring 25 in the second half and overtime combined. Those 25 points were more than half of Michigan's point totals in those two periods.
Against Purdue, Deshawn Sims made an innocent looking jumper in the second half. When he was running down the floor, he looked right at Coach John Beilien, pointed to his back, and said "put it on me." Sims would single-handily close out that game.
And, of course, when the " Detroit Duo" are on at the same time, they are almost unstoppable.
Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, and Laval Lucas-Perry do just enough from the outside for opponents to respect them.
John Beilien has led Canisius, Richmond, and West Virginia to the NCAA Tournament. He has a proven track record of success in postseason basketball. His Richmond Spiders upset the heavily favored Syracuse Orange in the early 90s, and his West Virginia Mountaineers reached the Elite Eight not that many years ago.
How does he do it? Coaches and teams in the conference know how to prepare and what to prepare for when they play a John Beilien coached team. And they generally have plenty of time to prepare for the 1-3-1 zone that he employs, and the type of spread-the-court offense he runs.
In the NCAA Tournament, teams can do neither. They aren't prepared for the defense. (Ask Ben Howland, Jim Calhoun, Darren Collison, or A.J. Price) They don't know what is about to be thrown at them.
With only a day or two to prepare, they are at an immediate disadvantage. If teams have more time to look at film and prepare, Beilien has the same amount of time to tweak it.
Those things have lead to great success in March for John Beilien. Can his Michigan Wolverines duplicate that success?
With Deshawn Sims playing like a man among boys, and Manny being Manny (in basketball terms) since he was benched at Iowa, other NCAA teams better watch out. John Beilien and the Detroit Duo are gunning for you.