Beilein: Wolverines "Not a Cinderella" heading into NCAA Opener
Following their Big Ten Title Championship in Washington D.C. last weekend, Michigan tips off their NCAA Tournament against Oklahoma State at 12:15 p.m. in Indianapolis on Friday.
While many are calling the Wolverines a Cinderella story after their plane slid off the runway on Wednesday, Michigan head coach John Beilein says he thinks they've been playing well for weeks.
"First of all, we were playing good basketball the whole month of February," Beilein said on Thursday. "It wasn't, I hear, 8 seed. We were tied for 5th. It was a tiebreaker. We were a game out of second and third. It wasn't a crazy story that all of a sudden an 8 is a 1. We'd already beaten Purdue once. And Wisconsin, we ended up beating them once. So it wasn't like a Cinderella story. What made it Cinderella was the circumstance. It wasn't just skidding off the runway. It was full going, 150 miles an hour, we can't stop. And our kids got -- thank goodness the plane didn't flip. All kinds of things could have happened once we got off the plane and looked. There's that one thing. There's that one shot in the game. There's that one play in the game that can change a season. Couple that with what happened on last Wednesday, and I think it was what just a little bit extra that we needed. We had just gone to Nebraska, that's had really good success at their place and away, and it was a 30-point game. So we were really playing well down the stretch."
"Getting back on the plane was definitely tough. Once we got on the plane and landed, we were able to focus our minds on basketball and pretty much lock in for those four, five days and do exactly what we went down there and wanted to do," senior guard Derrick Walton, Jr. says.
With a win, the Wolverines play the winner of Louisville and Jacksonville St. on Sunday afternoon at Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
The Michigan State Spartans tip off their tournament around 9:20 p.m. against Miami in Tulsa, Oklahoma.