Michigan defeat shows how difficult it is to make a Final Four

Now we see how difficult it is to make the Final Four in college basketball.

Perfection isn’t needed every night. But when the spot light turned on, Michigan was turned away by a gritty UCLA defense and an off night that cost the Wolverines in a 51-49 bummer of a game in Indianapolis.

Did some of you cancel plans to drive down to Indy after seeing how fortunate UCLA was in making this run past Michigan State and Alabama? Did you think about checking out the Final Four after witnessing a very doable path to the Big Dance?

Michigan looked like the better team until it was time to prove it was the better team. The Wolverines were the No.1 seed in the East region and No. 11 UCLA got in the tournament by the skin of its teeth. However, March Madness is often March Maddening.

Maybe some folks can have a better appreciation of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo for leading his team to eight Final Fours.

How could Franz Wagner and Hunter Dickinson be so pedestrian? Why did Eli Brooks rush that open put back near the end of the game? Players will be asking questions that cannot be answered for years to come.

Michigan does not get a shot against Gonzaga, which looks like the class of the field and would smack the Wolverines as it has butchered everybody else.

“It’s very disappoint for our guys,” said coach Juwan Howard. “Coming down to one possession. But that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Despite looking mortal for the first time in the tournament the game boiled down to a missed Wagner three-point shot at the buzzer.

Michigan often rushed when prudence was needed. Dickinson often turned into traffic when the middle was open. Wagner looked like a mess and Smith did not lead well enough as lead guard.

Part of the problem was the play of the Bruins. Once again perfection wasn’t needed and UCLA was anything but perfect. But UCLA had a lot going for it on the blue collar side of the ledger. And there is one more lesson. It is difficult to beat a team with an old cooter as a mascot.

Sister Jean hogged the air waves the last two tournaments for Loyola of Chicago. Now Hep Cronin — the dad of UCLA coach Mick Cronin — is the old-time mascot we soon will grow tired of watching.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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