Just six seasons ago, the Michigan Wolverines hired a new head coach and things looked to be on the rise. However, after a 10-22 record in his first season, John Beilein was worried that his new team couldn’t turn things around.
They were on the outskirts of Big Ten contention looking in.
Then, the following season, the Wolverines finished the season 21-14 and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years. Albeit, they were just a No. 10 seed and didn’t make it out of the round of 32, they were still making progress.
Or so they thought. The next season they regressed a bit, finishing 15-17 and missing out on the tourney. They hoped this was just a rebuilding season, and their hopes came to fruition. The following season had a much better result as they finished with more than 20 wins once again and made it to the second round, or technically the third, once again.
So they won two tournament games in the first four seasons under Beilein, but progress was in Michigan’s favor. The 2011-2012 season was the best Michigan had accomplished in over 10 years, winning 24 games and tying for the Big Ten titl — their first since 1986
They looked like they were poised for a tournament run with a No. 4 seed and a 24-9 record. Could this be the year they finally make it to the Sweet 16, their first in almost 20 years? However, they were bested by an impressive No. 13 Ohio squad, led by now Illinois coach John Groce.
They had a great season, though. They were led by a great freshman point guard in Trey Burke and they had a solid supporting cast.
In 2012, the Wolverines graduated a few leaders and looked to be headed for another average season with a tournament appearance, but no deep run.
However, they proved people wrong, finishing the regular season 25-6 and coming within a game of their second Big Ten title. They achieved yet another No. 4 seed in the tournament and had to face a tough draw. They won their first round game, then the second round, making the coveted Sweet 16 game.
They then had a great comeback win against No. 1 seed Kansas, then winning once again — this time against Florida by a big margin. Finally, they made their first Final Four in 20 years against Syracuse.
Michigan looked to make a championship, something that was unthinkable just two seasons ago. They outlasted a tough Syracuse team and have now made it to a title game.
With a win Monday night, the Wolverines could achieve a complete turnaround in just three years. This is just the beginning for the program and, with an upset over Louisville, could be the start of consistency.