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Monday, March 14, 2016
MICHIGAN NARROWLY MISSES OUT ON N.I.T.
John Beilein has struggled for years to get his Michigan Basketball team to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and this season looked like his best chance to get there. Unfortunately for his Wolverines, they missed out on the NIT yet again.
Beilein came to UM with a rich tradition of success in the NIT, winning the whole enchilada in his final season at West Virginia. It was that championship that opened the door to Ann Arbor for the old apple farmer, and he was determined to get back to the promised land for his new employer.
But alas, Beilein missed both tournaments twice in his first five seasons at Michigan, and only made the NCAA Tournament in the other three, compiling a 2-3 record. He also came up empty last season. (That unusual two-year-run took place between a first-round exit and the most recent empty post-season.)
So it looked like this was the make-it-or-break-it season for Beilein. The lack of senior leadership combined with unexplained injuries and an unprecedented "retirement" by a walk-on player seemed to be paving the way back into the NIT. Beilein covered his tracks well with the hot start to the league schedule, but made sure to lose most of his games on the back-end, setting his team up to dodge the Big Dance.
Tragically, the Wolverines slipped by Northwestern (in overtime) and Indiana (on a last-second shot) to force the NCAA Selection Committee to put them into its tournament.
Thus ends any chance of a repeat NIT Championship for Beilein, at least for this season. But for the old apple farmer, hope springs eternal, and after all, THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR!
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