It must be late February, beca
use the Detroit papers are full of lame and convoluted arguments in favor of letting a mediocre Michigan team into the NCAA tournament.
As is tradition, the sportwriters have exhaustive knowledge of the absolute minimums required to gain entry: overall winning record, winning conference record.
Both are true.
But for Michigan to gain entry, we have to presume that the rest of the field is as marginal as they are, which simply isn't the case.
As a football fan who is relatively knew to college basketball, it has taken me a while to figure out that there are literally hundreds of "basketball schools" out there - schools with names I've never heard of. Some of these outfits don't even appear to have a football squad, but they dominate the boards.
Thus the usual Michigan arguments "Our fans travel well!" and "We're in the Big Ten!" appear to have zero relevance to the topic at hand. Instead, schools with names like Xavier, Marquette and Gonzaga find themselves looking down on the Wolverines from lofty heights. Their student enrollments may only reach into four digits, but they can put five men on a court. More to the point, five men who know how to win - which is more than Mighty Meeechigan can say.
Meanwhile, the Spartans are also undergoing their usual late winter routine: finding out of they can fumble away the Big Ten title. The team is more confused than ever this year - dominating monsters, rolling over against punks and then phoning in games they can't afford to lose. They have four games left - Iowa, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue. Two of them should be easy wins, two should be tough, but the problem is that no one knows which is which.
A team which lost to Northwestern at home for the first time since Reagan was president is simply too unpredictable to, uh... make any predictions. Against Wisconsin, the Spartan faithful got to watch three teams on the court rather than the usual two: Wisconsin was there, and the Spartans showed up with themselves and their evil inept twins. Very odd.
Hopefully the team has finally acquired a sense of urgency. Certainly they did during the last 12 minutes on Sunday. We'll see if they can maintain it.
Meanwhile, down in Ann Arbor, the arguments will continue until the final, doom-sealing loss.