The Wolverine

April 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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8 THE WOLVERINE APRIL 2022 T hey made it. Juwan Howard's bas- ketball team didn't string together two straight wins over the final month of the season, but it didn't matter. They're an NCAA Tournament team. Not as a play-in, last-ditch, skin-of- their-teeth afterthought. As a solid No. 11 seed sent to nearby Indianapolis, where they have a chance to make some magic. Some of those outside looking in aren't too happy about it (we're eyeing you, Texas A&M). So you're salty that Michi- gan's 17-14 crew made it into the Dance, and your 23-12 team is left NIT picking? Tough rocks. Play (and beat) somebody. Michigan's solid entry into the biggest stage in college basketball says as much about Big Ten strength and the Wolver- ines' ability at their best as anything. The fact that the Wolverines could blow out Purdue and Michigan State down the stretch, knock off Rutgers and conquer the Buckeyes in Columbus demonstrates how far they've come. No, they're not the team many ex- pected in the preseason. No, they didn't come close to a Big Ten championship and melted down with a huge lead over Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament. But in what turned out to be a learning season, they learned an awful lot. How- ard learned you can't take a poke at an opponent, no matter the provocations. Freshmen like Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate learned consistent success for rookies at the Big Ten level isn't a given. The team learned about resilience and fighting back for an NCAA spot when many have written you off as an NIT squad. By the time this hits your mailbox, Michigan may have played itself out of the NCAA Tournament. But maybe not. And that's what March is all about — giving yourself a chance. "It's a new season now," Howard said. "I loved our team from Day 1. I loved our team when there were some challenges we faced, the group learning how to play together. … We've been battled tested." *** Across the rest of the Michigan land- scape, there's so much success, it's tough to pack it all into a limited space. Women's basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico leads her 22-6 Wolverines into the NCAA Tour- nament on March 19, hosting American at Crisler Center. Paced by superstar senior forward Naz Hillmon (21.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game), the Wolverines battled right down to the wire, challenging for a Big Ten championship. Now they draw a big- ger stage. Big Ten Coach of the Year Sean Bormet's wrestlers already pinned down a Big Ten championship, Michigan's first since 1973. Graduate students Nick Su- riano (125-pounder) and Myles Amine (184-pounder) each won individual con- ference titles, and Amine was named co- Wrestler of the Championship. The Wolverines held off second-place Penn State by all of 1.5 points, and now surge into the NCAA Championships March 17-19 in Detroit. Suriano and Amine carry No. 1 seeds into the compe- tition in a huge breakthrough year. Meanwhile, Bev Plocki's defending na- tional champion gymnastics crew vaults into the Big Ten Championships with eyes on a bigger prize once again. They should be looking higher. This crew is loaded with much of the same cast that conquered the nation last year. Edged out only by No. 2 Oklahoma at Norman this year (198.475-197.900), the Wolverines want it all again. They just might get it. *** And for a possible eighth, ninth and 10th national championship (Super Bowl), there's always Tom Brady. The Michigan-produced Greatest Quarter- back In The History Of The Universe ei- ther got bored in retirement or needed some help with high gas prices. He's back, and that's beautiful. Those awaiting the return of professional foot- ball in the state of Michigan (Detroit Li- ons: Trying Hard Since '57) have long since adopted other NFL squads. Here, it's been New England Patriots from 2000- 2019; Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2020-Til Brady Means It. *** Also, if you're seeking nonpartisanship regarding Michigan's new football broad- cast team for radio, look elsewhere. It says here Doug Karsch and Jon Jansen will be- come the sweet sound of fall Saturdays for the next two decades. Both represent longtime contributors to The Wolverine in terms of their insight. Karsch wrote a column in this publication for years. His encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan football, tireless preparation, keen mind for anecdotes and pure passion will endear him to listeners. Jansen, the former U-M two-time captain and national champion, already possesses great on-air chemistry with Karsch, from working together on Michi- gan broadcasts. He's equally passionate, with hands-on knowledge of Michigan at its very best. Together, they'll be worth cranking down the sound on a national TV broad- cast and dialing up the Michigan Radio Network. ❏ WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON Good News Is Flooding In At U-M Graduate student 184-pounder Myles Amine was named the co-Wrestler of the Championship after leading Michigan to its first Big Ten title since 1973. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since 1991. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JB_Wolverine.

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