Tonight is the night. At 8:23PM CT (who the hell set this time?) on CBS the Michigan Wolverines will tip off against the Louisville Cardinals and try to win their first NCAA Championship since 1989. The Wolverines have been to the Championship game 5 times: 1965, 1976, 1989, 1992 and 1993. Obviously, unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years, the last two appearances were vacated due to the Fab Five/Michigan basketball scandal of the 1990's. While the Wolverines are undoubtedly focused on winning it all for their school, fans, coaches and themselves, they should also remember that they're playing for something else: conference pride.
Since Michigan's victory in 1989 the Big Ten has sent only 5 other teams to the NCAA Championship (not counting the Wolverines of '92, '93): 2000 MSU, 2002 Indiana, 2005 Illinois, 2007 OSU and 2009 MSU. Of those five teams, only 2000 Michigan State was able to win it all, the remainder losing to either Maryland, North Carolina or Florida. Overall, the Big Ten has sent 20 teams to the NCAA Championship, going 10-10. Some of those games weren't even fair. The 1955-56 Iowa Hawkeyes lost to the San Francisco Dons who went 29-0 thanks to Bill Russell. The 1968-69 Purdue Boilermakers lost to Wooden, Kareem and Sidney Wicks. The other games were basically lost to unnamed evil ACC teams.
How similar are Michigan and Louisville this season? Well, check the radar chart:
Yes, that is very similar. Doing a bit of research I found that Michigan and Louisville haven't played each other since at least 1980 and I can't find any evidence of them playing..ever. Then again, my "research" is Wikipedia and Statsheet. On to the links...which are all Michigan:
Finally, this should also make Michigan fans happy: