The Wolverine

April 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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M By Michael Spath ichigan's NCAA Tour‑ nament hopes — on life support when U‑M en‑ tered a Feb. 22-23 series at Ohio State with a record of 10‑18‑2 — have improved considerably, with the Wolverines, well, streaking. A fitting 7-0-1 run, including a pair of CCHA playoff sweeps over Northern Michigan March  8-9 and Western Michigan March  15-16, positioned the Maize and Blue just two wins shy of a 23rd consecutive NCAA invitation. U-M will battle Miami (Ohio) March 23 in a CCHA semifinal at Joe Louis Arena, with a conference finals appearance and an NCAA automatic berth on the line the following day. If the Wolverines find a way to win both, then they will have achieved the (nearly) impossible. "It's unbelievable the streak we're on," senior alternate captain Kevin Lynch said. "We told you two months ago we were a team to be reckoned with, and that's because everyone in that locker room believed when everyone else didn't. We showed we can play as a team, play with passion, and overcome adversity throughout the year. "We know we're going to The Joe, and we have two games to finish this off, and we're ready. People are scared of us right now. They know we're hot. We're hungry for a ring and that CCHA championship." Michigan and its fans are hopeful to keep the NCAA postseason streak alive, one that began more than two decades ago. It is a story rooted in determination and perseverance, and one that began with disrespect. It Started With A Snub When Red Berenson was hired for the 1984-85 season, he knew the road back to respectability, and eventually to championships, would be long. The Wolverines were a combined 28‑44‑1 in the two seasons preceding Berenson's return, and they would win just 13 games in the coach's first campaign. Little by little, the Maize and Blue improved, crossing the .500 thresh‑ old in 1988 (22-19-0), finishing fifth, fourth and fourth in the CCHA from 1988‑90. In 1990, Michigan went 21‑11‑6 during the regular season, including a 16-11-5 mark in league play. U‑M bested Western Michigan in a quar‑ terfinal playoff series, and then in a postseason semifinal fell 4-3 in over‑ time to rival Michigan State, which won the CCHA regular-season and tournament titles that year. In the third-place game, Michigan would meet Bowling Green for a de facto play-in game to the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines licked their chops with the thought of best‑ ing a CCHA power — during the 1980s, the Falcons won four league titles and went to the NCAA Tourna‑ ment five times while U-M finished no higher than fourth and never went. "Before the game we had a soulsearching meeting with the team," Berenson said. "The locker rooms at Joe Louis are within earshot, and Bowling Green was playing loud

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