KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WOOD) — You hear “Hail to the Victors,” and you think of sunny fall days at the Big House. But with the Wolverines in another Sweet 16, Michigan’s football team isn’t the only one that’s being hailed.
“We’ve got some good players,” senior Derrick Walton Jr. told 24 Hour News 8’s Jack Doles in Kansas City. “We are doing something great right now. For the last six-seven years we’ve been raising the profile of Michigan basketball”
The man who has led the resurgence is coach John Beilein. This is Michigan’s seventh tournament appearance in Beilein’s 10 seasons, and their third trip to the Sweet 16.
Forty-two years into his coaching career, Beilein appears to be enjoying himself as much as the players he coaches.
“You know he brings out the squirt gun, he pulls these pranks, he’s playing music during our practices, so he’s obviously enjoying this moment as we are,” said junior Andrew Dakich.
“He’s been so great with us, encouraging us, believing in us,” senior Duncan Robinson added. “Just encouraging us to realize this opportunity and make the most of it.”
This run of seven straight wins in March has brought added attention to the team.
“You get so much more attention with the success and the plane crash and all that media attention,” said sophomore Mo Wagner. “Obviously it has changed a lot, but we all know that it’s not about that. It’s not about the hype, it’s not about the attention, it’s not about the media. It’s about playing basketball.”
Michigan plays Oregon at 7:10 p.m. Thursday in the Sweet 16. The winner plays the winner of Kansas-Purdue in the Elite Eight on Saturday.