The magical run has come to end. The Michigan Wolverines ran into an offensive explosion in the national championship in Villanova and fell 40 minutes short from cutting down the nets.
Let’s see what we learned from the national championship game.
What We Learned:
1. Michigan did not improve throughout the tournament
Reading between the lines, Michigan did not improve throughout the NCAA Tournament and it showed by getting run out of the Alamodome in the national championship. Most of that is their fault and some of it is because of the inferior competition that they played on their run to San Antonio.
The Wolverines did not play a seed better than 6-seeded Houston in the second round until Monday night. They needed a miracle shot to win that game. In the other games, Michigan struggled with offense with the lone exception coming against Texas A&M in the Sweet-16. They had not faced an offensive juggernaut all season and used their defense to further their season. For Michigan to beat Villanova Monday night, their offense would need to hit on all cylinders. It had not done so since the Big Ten Tournament Finals and did not in the championship game.
2. The pieces are there for the Wolverines to return in 2018-’19
The pieces are there for Michigan to be in Minneapolis next April and make it back to the Final Four. With or without Moe Wagner. Duncan Robinson and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman are the only forgone offensive production that will be departing Ann Arbor this offseason.
Wagner may join them as a potential first round draft pick. However, it is not a for sure thing that he wont be back in the Maize in Blue next season. The Wolverines will be a top-10 team if Wagner does not come back. If the German star comes back for his senior season, they may very well be a top-5 team. Especially with the amount of talent that is returning along with the talent coming in the freshman class.
Jordan Poole provided great energy off the bench for the Wolverines. Next year could see the sophomore become a star. Charles Matthews struggled during his arrival to Michigan. By season’s end he played like one of the most versatile players in the tournament. His inside and mid-range game is strong. If he can develop an outside game, he becomes ever more dangerous. Isaiah Livers had his ups-and-downs in his first season. But as he develops his game and body, he becomes a very dangerous player. John Teske emerged a force in the paint down the finish line of the season. He is another player that only gets better with another offseason of work.
And then add in the talents of Brandon Johns and David Dejulius who will arrive in Ann Arbor with offensive fire-power. Michigan should be a Big Ten champions favorite next season and maybe a Final Four favorite as well.
For Michigan fans, there is nothing to hand their heads on. This Wolverine squad began the season unranked and with low expectations. They exceeded every single one of them and fell just short of the ultimate goal that a few saw them reaching.
They beat Michigan State twice, won 33 games for the first time under John Beilein and won the Big Ten Tournament for the second year in a row. Beilein has the Wolverines playing an elite level and the buzz around this Michigan program should be as high as ever heading into next season.