Before the fanfare, bright lights, loud music and tons of celebrities, Michigan played Indiana on Tuesday night. This was supposed to feature two of the top teams in the Big Ten, both with shooters all over the floor and teams that love to run up and down. One team stuck to the script, and the other had it ripped up and thrown in the garbage. Make no mistake, the 13 point final point differential was extremely flattering.
Michigan got their asses handed to them by Indiana, losing 80-67 in a game that was really a 25 point loss. Those 25 points were decided in the first half, when the Hoosiers turned a 24-20 Michigan lead into a 45-24 halftime lead in the final 9 minutes. Indiana looked dominant during this stretch, knocking down 3-pointers, finishing at the rim and making Michigan look like a JV version of Rutgers.
Duncan Robinson barreled over Troy Williams with just under five minutes left in the half and the Hoosiers leading by three, and this was the ultimate turning point. The foul would have given Williams his third, and it seemed pretty clear the junior was still shuffling his feet. Instead, Robinson picked up his second, Beilein went to the auto-bench and Michigan was stuck for the final five minutes without their sharpshooter. Indiana went on their run, and that was it.
With Michigan trailing by 21 points to start the half, there was really nothing fancy Indiana had to do. Make a few shots, take care of the ball and rebound is just what the Hoosiers did as their lead ballooned to 27, and they remained in cruise control the rest of the game. Michigan played horrifically and John Beilein has to go back to the drawing board extremely quickly before Saturday's monster showdown against Michigan State, a game that lost some of its luster following Tuesday's beatdown.
Michigan students didn't have long to think about Tuesday night's loss, as Wednesday's "Signing of the Stars" event at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor provided plenty of fanfare and excitement for the entire week. The event was supposed to serve as a celebration of Michigan's players who signed on to play for the 2016 Michigan football team, but Jim Harbaugh took these basics and ran with it.
For starters, Harbaugh decided this spectacle needed to have as many celebrities as possible. His recruitment worked just as well off the football field, as Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Migos, Ric Flair, Jim Leyland and a host of other athletes and actors attended. (Jessica Szhor was by far the weirdest one, who really doesn't have any claim to fame.)
Fans were able to meet some of the new players, as well as hear analysis from ESPN's NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay, college football's favorite old-timer Lou Holtz and former NFL coach Mike Shanahan. It felt more like instant NFL draft analysis, except the majority of these kids were still in high school and sounded extremely awkward in their interviews. Randy Sklar, a Michigan graduate, played host, making jokes and putting up with Harbaugh cutting off recruits and analysts at a moment's notice.
Overall, the event was a phenomenal way for Michigan to establish itself as a football power, but also could have a great impact on the basketball court as well. College athletics are all about creating flash and fun to woo 17 and 18 year old kids, and Michigan has gotten increasingly good at that.
If basketball players see how seriously fans, coaches and alumni take the National Signing Day event, there's a chance that the basketball fanbase could rally behind this idea and try to create their own event. Sure, John Beilein is old school, but he could definitely learn a tip or two from Coach Harbaugh.