Even with NCAA Tournament appearances three out of the last four seasons for the Michigan Wolverines, John Beilein still has the giddiness he did when he made it the very first time.
“You never lose that excitement of watching that (the selection show) as it’s unveiled and we’re thrilled to be back in the NCAA tournament,” said Beilein. “We’re thrilled to have another chance after yesterday’s semifinal loss to go out and play. We respect Ohio University a great deal, they are a very talented team that has shown that over the year and over the past couple of years.”
Michigan has prided itself the entire season on bouncing back and moving onto the next game after a loss. Now the wolverines have the chance to do that on college basketball’s greatest stage.
“I think our kids know that, I didn’t clip the game until on the bus ride back today,” said Beilein. “I just said they know this, they know they’ll appreciate these changes they need to make in some things and it was just simple so we’ve grown, I say this all the time, we’ve grown in defeat and in many times you grow in defeat quicker than you grow in victory.”
Resiliency is key in a conference such as the Big Ten and with numerous teams capturing high seeds in this year’s tournament. The committee’s recognition of the league’s strength makes Michigan’s share of the conference championship is that much more impressive.
“It’s a great statement for the Big Ten to have so many teams,” said Beilein. “I think there may be five teams within the top four (seeds) so that’s five teams in the top sixteen? That tells you what the league was like this year so it makes us very proud to be the regular season champions as well.
As Michigan heads into their second round match-up with the Ohio Bobcats, Beilein, his staff and players are focused on doing what they’ve done all year -- take thing’s one day, practice and game at a time.
“Our kids, they love this time of the year and they really liked their experience last year and I’m sure every one of them including the coaches, we want to play right to the end and hopefully we get victory after victory after victory, just got to get number one first,” said Beilein.
Michigan, the #4 seed in the Midwest region takes on Ohio, the #13 seed in the Midwest region this Friday at 7:20pm ET from Nashville, Tennessee.