Stories indexed with the term ‘NCAA basketball tournament’

Column: Michigan-MSU Rivalry Recharges

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

On Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines faced the Michigan State Spartans in the final of the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament. After a decade of domination by the Spartans, John Beilein’s Wolverines held the upper hand the past four years. After losing two stars to the NBA and one to back surgery, they surprised just about everyone when they won the regular season Big Ten title this year by three games. Now they had the rare chance to beat the Spartans three times in one season.

Well, they say beating your arch-rival three times is almost impossible, and that proved true. There was no debating this one. The Spartans beat the Wolverines by 14 points. Spartans’ head coach Tom Izzo is doing what Tom Izzo does: Getting his team ready at just the right time for a good run in the NCAA tournament.

But Sunday’s game might have given both teams what they needed for the tournament: a spark of confidence for the Spartans, and a wake-up call for the Wolverines. I’ll bet both Izzo and Beilein are smart enough to use the Big Ten final game to motivate their players.

But, whatever happens in the NCAA tournament, both teams have elevated basketball in the state of Michigan – and with it, the rivalry between them. And they’ve done it the right way, too. [Full Story]

A2: “One Shining Moment”

A column on BuzzFeed Sports tells the story of how David Barrett’s “One Shining Moment” – written 27 years ago – became the signature song for the NCAA basketball finals. “From the snare drum and piano that opens the segment to a few seconds later, when that familiar 11-note synth-trumpet kicks in, the interplay between words and harmony never veer from Barrett’s original architecture. In fact, despite all the iterations through the years, many of the same musical elements remain from that fall day in 1986, when a handful of men came together in an Ann Arbor studio to record the first song for the first time.” [Source]

A2: Pure Michigan

Writing for Crain’s Detroit Business, Chris Gautz notes the coincidental timing of Ann Arbor-focused Pure Michigan ads running on cable TV at the same time as the University of Michigan men’s basketball team advances to the NCAA tournament’s Final Four. He quotes Michelle Begnoche, public relations manager for Travel Michigan: “This was planned before Michigan made the Final Four. But it’s a great story for us.” [Source]

Column: Michigan Thanks Buckeyes – For Now

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

The Big Ten basketball experts knew exactly what was going to happen this season before it even started. Michigan State would battle for another title, while Michigan would be stuck in the middle, fighting for a tournament bid.

And that’s exactly how it started. The Spartans jumped out to first place, and had it all to themselves with just two games left. The Wolverines spent most of the season in the middle of the pack.

The experts were looking pretty smart – until Michigan started mastering head coach John Beilein’s unconventional system. The Wolverines beat Michigan State at home by a single point, then knocked off sixth-ranked Ohio State – just two of Michigan’s 15 straight home victories. With just a week left in the regular season, the Wolverines had a chance to win their first Big Ten title since 1986 – the longest drought in school history. [Full Story]

Column on Hoops: Basketball, Civics

On Tuesday, a capacity crowd packed a local Ann Arbor venue to watch a five-person team do its work. Part of the color commentary included talk of game-changing players, and speculation about who had the best center of all the conferences. Everyone knew that whichever team prevailed on Tuesday would not win the whole tournament – it would just advance to the next round.

Ann Arbor West Park basketball hoop

The basketball hoop on the south end of the court in Ann Arbor's newly renovated West Park. (Photo by the writer.)

Here’s a highlight reel of how events unfolded on Tuesday. Play opened with a disputed call, and one of the fans nearly got tossed out of the venue. There was a guy with a red sweater, reminiscent of those favored by Bob Knight when he coached the Indiana University squad, even though he was not the guy in danger of getting tossed. He was actually prepared to do the tossing.

Early on, the coach told the team about the “four corners” – which some older sports fans might recognize as a stalling style of basketball made popular by legendary University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith. And the team managed to hold the ball for one final shot, which it made. The cheerleaders cheered. The victors were valiant … hail, hail, etcetera.

The venue? It was the fourth floor meeting room of city hall. And the five-person team was the committee charged with evaluating proposals for use of the city-owned Library Lot. That’s the parcel atop the Fifth Avenue parking structure currently under construction.

Who says local civic affairs isn’t at least as interesting as NCAA basketball? Well, actually, most readers would say that, I’m guessing.

But here’s something I think we can all agree on: Fans at basketball games get to cheer or boo as loud as they like … within certain parameters. The parallel principle for public meetings, like the one on Tuesday, is that members of the public should be allowed to address the group during its meeting.

The city of Ann Arbor’s stated written policy on this is actually quite clear: Even entities that are not public bodies under the Open Meetings Act should, to the best of their abilities, conform with the spirit of the OMA – which includes a provision for public participation at meetings. [Full Story]