Michigan tips off the Big Ten tournament at 2:30 today against Iowa.
I have class. And I’m going.
Before you laud me for my dedication to academics, allow me to explain. Simply put, short of pulling off an improbable three- or four-game win streak that lands Michigan in the Big Ten title game (and either the NIT or NCAA tourney), I don’t see a lot of ways this tournament can really help out Michigan.
The team’s best player, and the guy who will need to come up huge if Michigan is going to string together victories, is a departing senior. While I’d love to see DeShawn Sims’ career end on a high note, him pulling through with a huge tourney performance will only accentuate what Michigan will be missing in his absence next season.
With John Beilein holding out hope of a miracle tourney run, I don’t expect the rotation to change much (or at all), meaning we will continue to see Stu Douglass and Laval Lucas-Perry eat up big minutes while freshman Matt Vogrich, a guy the team may need to be a big contributor next season, will barely see time. This is not a criticism of Beilein — he obviously has to coach like this team has a chance to make a run — but just another unfortunate byproduct of a bad year, where the team had its back to the wall so often that it couldn’t take a look at some of its freshman talent without risking digging a deeper hole.
If Manny Harris comes up with a huge tourney, maybe he gets convinced to take his game to the next level. Very unlikely, I know, but it is a possibility. If he doesn’t play well, concerns about next year’s team, with Harris having to shoulder an even greater load than he does this year, will only increase.
Most of all, making a deep Big Ten tournament run, or even beating Iowa and upsetting Ohio State, will just add to the frustration of this season — it’s impossible not to feel like this team underperformed, and showing a flash of brilliance (or competency) after it’s far too late to salvage the season would just serve to tease the fans who expected Michigan to have an NCAA tournament bid locked up by now.
If Michigan loses, well, it’s the merciful end to a disappointing season, but it’s still a loss, and those never are good.
I’m off to class, where I’ll be refreshing my laptop to check the score every minute, and maybe even see if I can get away with streaming the game live without anybody noticing. I’m just not so sure my heart will fully be in it when I do so.