We’re deep in the heart of March Madness, and by now pretty much everybody has established his or her rooting interest for the rest of the tournament. It could be the team you picked to win it all or just your favorite team. But, if on the off chance you are lost and are looking for a team to lock onto for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament, allow me to guide you.
Come root for the Michigan Wolverines with me.
I’ll admit that Michigan is my favorite team and has been my entire life. I’m a bit biased. But after watching this Wolverine squad all season, I’m sure Michigan is the most fun team remaining in the tournament and the team all of your friends will be jealous of when you say you were rooting for them first.
To start, Michigan has the third best offense in the nation and the best remaining offense in the tournament (bye Creighton!). They score 124 points per 100 possessions. They score in bunches. They shoot threes and they shoot them well. Michigan is shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc this year. Everybody loves to watch a great offense, and honestly, Michigan probably has the best, most complete offense in the tournament.
The reason the offense is so good and entertaining is partially because of the system that head coach John Beilein runs, but it’s the players who run said offense whom you will fall in love with.
The leader of the bunch is sophomore Nik Stauskas. On last year’s national runner-up team, Stauskas was a scrawny spot-up shooter who complemented Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. With the latter two now enjoying NBA careers, Stauskas had to take the next step and become a more complete basketball player, and boy did he ever. The Mississauga, Canada native spent the offseason bulking up, going from a skinny 192 pounds to a muscular 205, which allowed him to be a much bigger presence inside the three point arc.
What happened next? Stauskas won Big Ten Player of the Year and became the leader of a team that just reached its second consecutive Sweet Sixteen. If you jump on the Michigan bandwagon, he’s number 11. Keep your eye on him.
Who else can you look forward to watching when you become a Wolverine fan for the remainder of March? How about Glenn Robinson III, the son of former first overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft Glenn Robinson. GR3, as we Michigan fans like to call him, could have easily gone to the NBA after his freshman campaign last year. Unlike Stauskas, Robinson has had the NBA body and skill set since day one. But watching Louisville cut down the nets last year drove him back to Ann Arbor, Mich. for another year.
GR3 is the other leader of this team, and when teams decide to lock down on Stauskas, he’s the one whose number gets called. He’s not the most consistent player, as he can disappear for large chunks of games, but when you need him, he always seems to be there. He hit an incredible game winning shot earlier in the season against Purdue, and when things got hairy this past Saturday against Texas, Robinson had a layup in traffic followed by a three-pointer to put Michigan comfortably in the lead again. For your viewing guide, GR3 is number one and often the most athletic guy on the court.
Other assets of this terrific Michigan team include the two headed point guard combo of Derrick Walton Jr. (No. 10) and Spike Albrecht (No. 2). Walton is a highly touted freshman, given the responsibility of replacing last year’s National Player of the Year Trey Burke, and he’s done an admirable job.
Albrecht is five-foot-11-inches and looks like he belongs on the playground, but he proved he can play with the big boys when he scored 17 points in last year’s championship game. He’ll quickly become one of your favorite players when you watch the Wolverines.
And the best part about this year’s Michigan team? They won the Big Ten regular season championship and are on this run without their best player, preseason All-American Mitch McGary. McGary suffered a back injury early in the year which required surgery, thus keeping him out for the entire season. Biased Michigan fan talking here, but if the Wolverines had McGary, they’d have been the prohibitive favorites to win the tournament from the start.
Michigan basketball also boasts by far the best Twitter feed in college basketball @umichbball. And, if you love awesome bench reactions to big plays, Michigan is the team for you. Freshman Andrew Dakich and the Bench Mob are quite a sight when Stauskas and company hit a big shot.
So, if you’re lost, looking for a team to call your own while the world is focused on college hoops, join me in rooting for Michigan. I promise they won’t let you down.
Matt Rosenfeld is Sports Editor at The Fordham Ram.