John Beilein Continues to Prove Himself as a Players’ Coach

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on April 3rd, 2014

Before taking the Michigan job, John Beilein was known for running a fast-paced offense that can outscore anybody on a given night. His West Virginia team with Kevin Pittsnoggle and Mike Gansey surprised opposing defenses on its way to the Elite Eight in 2005. Based on his seven-year record in Ann Arbor, it is high time to recognize and appreciate his ability to coach players with diverse skill sets. Customizing the offense to accordingly cope with personnel turnover and injuries has been his forte in leading Michigan basketball back to relevance in the Big Ten and on the national stage.

John Beilein is more than just an offensive minded coach. He is a great players' coach.

John Beilein is more than just an offensive minded coach. He is a great players’ coach. (AP)

There was no specific game or season that started this transformation, but if we were forced to pick one, we should review the last six weeks of the 2010-11 Big Ten season. After losing six straight games in January, the Wolverines appeared to have only a slight shot of making the NCAA Tournament. But led by a sharpshooting freshman in Tim Hardaway Jr. and a relatively unknown point guard named Darius Morris, Beilein’s crew made a furious charge into the Big Dance and nearly upset Duke in the round of 32. That season showed how Beilein could string together young players to mesh with seasoned veterans like Stu Douglass and Zach Novak, slowly changing the culture of the long-dormant Michigan program.

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Marveling at Caris LeVert’s Versatility

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on February 22nd, 2014

Have you ever played a basketball video game with your favorite team, and you pick a single player – usually a guard – to try to excel in every aspect of the game? On defense, you try to lock down the best offensive player from the opposing team. On offense, you try to set up plays in the half-court, penetrate into the paint, finish around the basket, and also nail a long-range shot from time to time. Michigan’s Caris LeVert is one of those players. Over the past five games, LeVert has averaged 17.0 PPG for the Wolverines, helping to make up for Nik Stauskas’ slump. LeVert’s surge has put Big Ten defenses in a tough spot, because the Wolverines are more than just a one-man wrecking crew on the offensive end.

Caris LeVert (right) is arguably the most versatile player in the Big Ten.

Caris LeVert (right) is arguably the most versatile player in the Big Ten.

Statistically speaking, LeVert’s 13/5/3 averages do not necessarily indicate greatness, but John Beilein can always count on him to bail out the team on broken possessions. After Michigan’s loss to Charlotte during the non-conference season, Beilein turned to LeVert to set up plays in the half-court because freshman Derrick Walton Jr. wasn’t yet ready for that responsibility. Stauskas is just as valuable playing the quasi-point guard role, but he is more effective running off screens and looking for his shot. You rarely see LeVert stumble with the ball on the offense, almost reminding you of an excellent soccer midfielder who isn’t necessarily quick but always keeps the ball alive, looking for the next play. When he does attack the basket, he doesn’t just zip through the screens; rather, he gets there methodically and looks to dish to the open player in the corner, and if that option is unavailable, he is crafty with his layups. Look no further than his 33.2 percent free throw rate and 82 free throw attempts to understand his effectiveness in the lane. Even in the team’s losses, he didn’t stray away from the game plan and tried to keep the Wolverines in the game by relentlessly attacking the basket.

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The Best Of 2013 In College Basketball

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 31st, 2013

With 2013 winding to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in college basketball. There were too many memorable moments to recount ‘em all, but here’s our honor roll for the last calendar year — a list laced with games, plays, and performances that will long struggle to escape our memory banks.

Best Game: Michigan vs. Kansas, NCAA Tournament, Sweet Sixteen

Trey Burke's Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013's Prevailing Memories

Trey Burke’s Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013′s Prevailing Memories

Gonzaga-Butler may have given us the best final seconds of regulation (see below), and Louisville-Notre Dame definitely donated the most riveting 25 minutes of action after regulation, but when talking games of the year, Michigan vs. Kansas was simply unmatched when it came to elevated stakes and elite talent. We won’t soon forget Trey Burke’s comeback-capping, game-tying three to force overtime, but it would be a shame if that’s all that lived on from this classic. Sweet Sixteen match-ups between national title contenders don’t come around every March; would you have bet against Kansas to get to Championship Monday if Burke’s three hadn’t found the bottom of the net on that Friday night?

Honorable Mention: Gonzaga at Butler, Louisville at Notre Dame.

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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #2 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2013

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Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#2 – Where National Player of the Year Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

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2013-14 RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 7th, 2013

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And so it begins. The time of year where we hear familiar voices on the television, see the faces on the floor, and our favorite teams finally playing games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With the games commencing on Friday evening, we officially unveil RTC’s 2013-14 Preseason Top 25. Starting November 18, you can expect our weekly poll to come out every Monday morning. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick and dirty analysis that dives deeper into how the teams shake out from top to bottom. To see how we did last year, check out our 2012-13 preseason poll – we nailed some (Louisville, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas), and swung and missed on others (Kentucky, NC State, Missouri, UCLA). We promise to do better this time around.

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Quick n’ Dirty Thoughts.

  • A Majority Likes Kentucky – Four out of our seven pollsters are in agreement that Kentucky is the top team in the country, while the other two teams that were picked first were Louisville (one #1 vote) and Michigan State (two #1 votes). It is really difficult to argue with any of the three selections, but Kentucky reigned supreme due to the star-studded recruiting class of Julius Randle, James Young, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson that John Calipari was able to lure to Lexington. Do not forget that Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein also return for the Wildcats. Defending national champion Louisville is once again loaded with talent, led by preseason All-American Russ Smith and 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock. Michigan State is a squad that was helped immensely when both sophomore Gary Harris and senior Adreian Payne bypassed the NBA Draft to return to East Lansing.

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Big Ten M5: 11.05.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 5th, 2013

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  1. The Cliff Alexander recruitment may now need to be classified as an official circus. Earlier in the day, long-time Illinois-based recruiting analyst Roy Schmidt tweeted that when Alexander announces, the “2 final caps on [the] table will be Illinois & DePaul,” effectively eliminating Kansas and Memphis from contention. After which, Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com tweeted that Alexander had not in fact cut his list to these two schools. Schmidt later clarified that his tweet did not mean Alexander will necessarily cut his list but that these two schools would be there until the end. It seems with this recruitment there is a new rumor each and every day. Alexander is supremely talented, and his recruitment is certainly worth any headache it may cause John Groce and his staff. But the topsy-turvy nature of his recruitment reflects poorly on him and begs the question of whether Alexander will be as big of a distraction on the court as his recruitment has been. It’s probably in the interest of Alexander and those around him to get past this side show and back to basketball.
  2. Mitch McGary was instrumental in Michigan’s run to the National Championship game last March. After a somewhat disappointing freshman year, relative to his standing in the rankings, McGary finally put it together and averaged 14.3 PPG and 10.7 RPG during the NCAA Tournament. Though he had the opportunity to leave for the NBA, McGary decided to come back to lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten championship and another Final Four run. On Monday, McGary was selected by the Associated Press as a Preseason First Team All-American. The departure of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will give McGary ample opportunity to take on a bigger role and make another leap in his development. Now that his freshman jitters are gone, McGary will need to prove he can consistently be the star that everyone thinks he can be.
  3. Apparently, Yogi Ferrell is still not over Indiana’s loss to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. In case you forgot, Indiana’s high-powered offense was completely neutralized by Syracuse’s zone. Ferrell went scoreless in that game and the bad taste in his mouth has driven him to address one of his biggest weaknesses from last season: shooting. Last year, Ferrell shot a very pedestrian 40.3 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc, but he has taken this offseason to fix his mechanics and hit the gym hard. We may have gotten a taste of what’s to come when he hit six three-pointers in the Hoosiers’ October 26 exhibition game. If Ferrell can be a consistent threat from deep, that will open up the driving lanes for himself and Will Sheehey. It will also give more space down low for freshman Noah Vonleh to be effective scoring on the block.
  4. Drew Crawford is one good teammate. He was on pace to graduate at the end of the spring semester and could have applied for a graduate transfer to another school. He could have easily gone to a school where he would have had the opportunity to do something he’s never done before – play in the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, the coach that had recruited and mentored him during his tenure at Evanston was now gone. He had every reason to go but decided to stay to help his school and teammates transition into the Chris Collins era. The current environment has both coaches and players eager to make moves to the next best situation, so what Crawford did here is refreshing. Northwestern will struggle this season and Crawford will most likely never play in the NCAA Tournament in his collegiate career, but his selflessness is to be commended and admired.
  5. Gary Harris was selected as the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year during media day. An outstanding freshman, he was hampered by a nagging shoulder injury last season and is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered back in August. If there is any concern with him this season, it’s his ongoing health. His performance during last night’s exhibition game may have alleviated some of those fears.  Harris scored 21 points and went 5-of-7 from deep. While projecting what a player will do in a season based off one exhibition game is unwise, we already know Harris is a special player and he will be in store for a special season as long as he can stay healthy.
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20 Questions: Can Michigan Remain Great Without Trey Burke?

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 18th, 2013

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Throughout the preseason, RTC national columnists will answer the 20 most compelling questions heading into the 2013-14 season. Previous columns in this year’s series are located here.   

Replacing Trey Burke will be hard. Michigan fans have no doubt heard this statement plenty of times since the Wolverines’ exhilarating national championship game run ended in Atlanta last April, and they’re going to hear it a few more times before the season tips off in three weeks. Not only was Burke the best player on his own team, he was, according to most national award voters, the best player in the country. It is impossible to replace a player that good, that impactful, in the span of one offseason; all Michigan can hope to do is to mitigate his departure. But before we get into how the Wolverines will attempt to recreate Burke’s production, let’s have a statistical look back at his incredible 2012-13 season. While playing 87.5 percent of Michigan’s available minutes, Burke posted an offensive rating of 121.2 (52nd in the country), assisted on 37.3 percent of his team’s buckets (23rd) and used up 29 percent of available possessions (66th). All of which translates thusly: Burke played a lot, scored a lot, had a lot of assists, and did all of it efficiently.

The Wolverines should adjust to life without Burke while maintaining their status as a top-tier BIg Ten outfit (Getty Images).

The Wolverines should adjust to life without Burke while maintaining their status as a top-tier BIg Ten outfit (Getty Images).

There is no Michigan player capable of replicating that statistical profile – which ranked second in Ken Pomeroy’s final player of the year standings, behind (believe it or not) Louisville guard Russ Smith. That’s fine, because the Wolverines don’t need an All-American point guard to remain one of the best teams in the Big Ten. They have plenty of firepower returning at other spots. For a few weeks after the season, as the NBA Draft loomed and several Michigan players – including Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, both in position to parlay the momentum of standout March performances into likely first-round selections – debated leaving school, it appeared as if John Beilein might need to hunker down for a bit of a rebuild. Then Robinson and McGary announced their respective returns, and the repercussions of Burke’s departure didn’t feel quite as drastic. That duo’s decision ensured Michigan would stay relevant in what’s almost sure to be another brutal Big Ten. The matter of replacing Burke, of course, can’t be addressed by Robinson or McGary, nor does Michigan have a star point guard waiting in the wings, another surefire first-round pick capable of reprising Burke’s ridiculous production from last season.

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Morning Five: 06.27.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2013

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  1. It’s NBA Draft day, and we here in college basketball land will once again watch the proceedings to bid adieu to the one-year wonders and four-year plodders alike. Weak draft or not, the harsh reality is that most of these players will never be heard from again by any of us, but there’s always the hope that the next Kawhi Leonard or Paul George is hidden somewhere among the busts. One of the interesting notes with this year’s draft is that there’s no consensus on which player will be the first chosen — as many as seven individuals, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, Maryland’s Alex Len, Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, appear to be in the mix. The smart money probably lies with Noel heading to Cleveland to join Kyrie Irving, but it’s highly likely that a redrafting of this group in five years would look very different. For additional prep for tonight, check out the mock drafts at NBADraft.net, DraftExpress, and Chad Ford’s Insider; as well as our own RTC Draft Profiles series, and the RTC Offseason Podcast: NBA Draft Edition, featuring draft profiler and columnist Bennet Hayes. Plenty of great material there. 
  2. We’ve been waiting on this series to finish up before linking to it, but the Emory Sports Marketing Analytics group has been rolling out some data and related conclusions examining power conference schools’ ability in putting players into the NBA Draft (the entire series of posts is here). The one thing we will laud them for here is controlling for the incredibly important factor that the bigger and better schools recruit the best talent — a bit of a chicken-and-egg argument always ensues. Does Duke, for example, put a bunch of players in the NBA because they recruit great players, or because they develop and therefore produce great draft picks? The truth is both, but ferreting out how much of each input should be allocated is the hardest part. These guys try to explain away that issue with their analysis, but the time frame chosen (2002-11) creates another confounding issue. How important is the school — in other words, the brand and the physical university — versus the head coach when it comes to recruiting and player development? In our opinion, that distinction is significant. Tubby Smith was great at developing players at Kentucky; but John Calipari is great at recruiting them. In this analysis, Kentucky the program gets credit for both, and falls to third in the SEC as a result. Is Vanderbilt (and by proxy, Kevin Stallings) the best program in the SEC at “converting” talent to the NBA Draft? It seems a specious argument based on essentially one group of players, but we’re withhold a longer criticism until we see the next steps they have planned with this data set (which does look promising).
  3. We may have found our next Russell Westbrook in this year’s NBA Draft, and he goes by the name Trey Burke. No, we’re not suggesting that the NPOY has the explosiveness or all-around game that the NBA All-Star for the Oklahoma City Thunder has, but he may be very well on his way to matching Westbrook’s oft-ridiculous but always-talked about style. GQ Magazine chose the Michigan star as their top style pick in this year’s draft, and we have to say from our view that we’ll remain happy seeing the cocksure point guard in his jersey and basketball shorts. If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll get some run on Inside the NBA next season for more than just his play, though.
  4. The Big East got its (rumored) woman, as former WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman was announced as the league’s new boss Wednesday. With the league formally opening up operations on Monday and in desperate need of a manager who can get things done — like, say, building a fall sports schedule — this appears on its face to be a strong move. Ackerman is widely respected within the basketball community, having played at Virginia, helped to found and build the WNBA in the mid-1990s, and acted as the president of USA Basketball for a successful period during the last decade. We’ll have a bit more on this on our Big East microsite later this morning, but it goes without saying that a bright, basketball-centric person with significant organization and business experience is a superb hire.
  5. Finally, the NCAA was busy handing out reprimands on Wednesday, as Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, Kansas head coach Bill Self, and a Wichita State associate athletic director named Darron Boatright were all censured for incidents during the NCAA Tournament. Henderson’s one-gun salute to La Salle fans after his team’s loss in the Round of 32 warranted his reprimand, while Self’s slamming of the scorer’s table during the Jayhawks’ win over UNC in that same round was cause for his. The Wichita State official’s reprimand was the most peculiar, as Boatright apparently got into a confrontation with a Staples Center security officer prior to the Shockers’ Sweet Sixteen contest against La Salle. It’s a good thing that the NCAA enforcement staff is all over these incidents, that’s for sure.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Trey Burke

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

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The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Trey Burke

School: Michigan

Height/Weight: 6’1” / 190 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Overview: After flirting with the NBA a year ago, Trey Burke had almost no choice but to take the plunge this go-around. When you lead your team to the National Championship game, collect a smorgasbord of National POY trophies, and produce one of the most indelible March moments of recent memory, your draft stock can’t really get much higher. Burke’s stellar season is well-documented at this point, but it’s worth noting the drastic improvement in efficiency for Burke between years one and two at Michigan. He cut his turnover rate from 18.6% to 13.4%, increased his assist rate, and shot the ball better from the free throw line, two-point range, and beyond the arc. Oh, and he did all this in one of the best conferences college basketball has seen in years. Burke did everything he could on the court to impress scouts, but there are still concerns about his viability as an NBA point guard.  His height (barely six feet) scares a lot of teams, and both lateral mobility and overall athleticism has come into question with Burke. Some of the concerns are not dissimilar from those scouts had with Chris Paul before he entered the league, and Burke’s fiery demeanor and leadership also conjure up memories of a young Paul. But Burke is well behind where Paul was as a prospect, and if he ever hopes to come close to making the kind of impact Paul has made in the league, he will have to provide resounding answers to the questions that currently surround him. A tall (no pun intended) task ahead, but anyone who watched Trey Burke for the past two years knows better than to count him out.

Will Translate to the NBA: There may be some athletic limitations in play with Burke, but the diminutive point guard’s offensive game is quite evolved. He shoots the ball extremely well – both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations – and gets teammates involved by driving and kicking. He is a great decision-maker who limited turnovers last season despite having the ball in his hands all the time. The length of NBA defenders will test Burke, but there are very few holes in his offensive game. Burke is also a winner, through and through. He wants the ball in clutch situations, demands the most from his teammates, and works tirelessly at his game. There is no player in this draft better suited to step in and lead a team from day one than Burke.

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Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary’s Returns Guarantee No Post-National Final Hangover

Posted by Chris Johnson on April 19th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Compared to the gutting four-man exodus that could have been, Michigan can breathe a collective sigh relief after Thursday’s news that starting forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III will extend their college basketball careers for at least one more season. The alternative – McGary and Robinson turning their March spotlights and intriguing individual games into mid-to-late first round draft picks – would have necessitated a full-blown, revamped, freshmen-buoyed rebuilding project. Instead, the Wolverines won’t be rebuilding next season. They will be challenging, and quite possibly winning, a Big Ten championship.

Bringing back two key cogs like McGary and Robinson III gives Michigan enough firepower for a run at a Big Ten championship in 2013-14 (USA TODAY Sports).

Bringing back two key cogs like McGary and Robinson III gives Michigan enough firepower for a run at a Big Ten championship in 2013-14 (USA TODAY Sports).

But, wait, didn’t Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., two starters on Michigan’s national finalist squad, the former a consensus National Player of the Year, just declare their intentions to do the very thing we are celebrating McGary and Robinson for not doing, for entering the NBA Draft? How can Michigan possibly recover from losing two hugely important perimeter stars from its roster? Those are valid questions to ask for any team who waves goodbye to two pivotal starters, let alone the unanimously considered best player in the country. Not even in Kentucky’s annually warped recruit-draft-restock business is losing a player of Burke’s caliber, and a secondary scorer with Hardaway’s athletic talents and experience, a welcome experience.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVI

Posted by jbaumgartner on April 12th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. a final game that was so good, so full of quality and runs and drama, that you literally sat in your seat and wondered if it could sustain itself for 40 minutes. The answer was yes, and anyone who wasn’t on the edge of their seat for most of Monday night doesn’t have a pulse. That game was everything we could have hoped for – after an NCAA Tournament that included both upsets and duds to go alongside some raggedy play, this was a title game deserving of the name. What a way to end the year.

I LOVED…. being vindicated in my disgust for Doug Gottlieb. Just take a few quick seconds in case you missed him making a fool of himself on national television (ahem, I mean bigger fool than usual).

I LOVED…. Russdiculousness. You have to give it to Russ Smith – he carried his Louisville team all the way to the Final Four, all the way to the title game with a torrid stretch of scoring, and once he got there he flat-out refused to become a different player. With a lead down the stretch, Russ fouled on the perimeter, dribbled into traffic, took a three-pointer with a new shot clock and 2:30 left, threw crazy passes into the stands and generally tried to give the championship trophy away. But hey, he wouldn’t be Russ if he weren’t a little nutty, and the Cardinals wouldn’t be holding that trophy if he wasn’t on their side.

Russdiculous Lived Up to His Name

I LOVED…. a shootout. It didn’t get any better than that first-half step-off from 22 feet by Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock. Spike’s might have been more unexpected, but Hancock’s was pure guts in the face of a double-digit deficit with the season on the line. It made for some incredible runs in the first 20 minutes, and it got even better when Albrecht made a cybermove on Kate Upton.

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Look at That: Michigan-Louisville Saved a “Terrible” College Basketball Season

Posted by Chris Johnson on April 9th, 2013

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Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Conclusions are designed to summarize. They are added on the ends of books to pithily sum the events of previous chapters. They tie together loose ends, pull things together. Everything falls in line, any earlier doubts crystallized into a clear and concise synopsis. Everything makes sense. When it doesn’t – that’s when you question, when you wonder, when you’re truly flabbergasted by the events unfolding in front of you.

That was the feeling I got Monday night watching one of the most insane first half performances of any national championship game in any season in any level of competitive basketball. Spike Albrecht blew my mind. Yours, too: In the matter of 16 minutes, Albrecht – called into action after National Player Of The Year Award-gathering point guard Trey Burke picked up a sketchy second foul – scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. He entered the game at a precarious time for Michigan, what with their floor leader and undisputed best player sent to the bench, and when he left, Albrecht was a legend.

An enormous burst of energy from Albrecht gave michigan a huge jolt in the first half (Getty Images).

An enormous burst of energy from Albrecht gave michigan a huge jolt in the first half (Getty Images).

It didn’t stop there. Louisville responded – check that. National semifinal hero Luke Hancock responded with a ridiculous four threes on four consecutive possessions, all launched from the same general right-wing location, each purer than the one preceding. At the end of 20 minutes, two teams went to the locker room separated by one point. It was one half of basketball, and the nation had already enjoyed quite enough excitement for one night – more excitement than this college basketball season, this no-dominant-team, down-tempo, micromanaged, low-standard-of-play, bring-back-the-good-old-days season provided over five months of games.

——————–

The running theme in college hoops circles these days goes a little something like this: The sport is irredeemably destroyed, all the way down to its most basic components – team unity, player motivation, coaching greed and, my personal favorite, parity. As if a relatively equal playing field, and a complementary absence of a Kentucky 2012-level alpha dog, is such a bad thing. As if competitive basketball between two evenly-matched outfits on national television in an arena packed 75,000-strong is a detestable element of the game we’ve come to accept, a sign of deteriorating talent and viewability?

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