Sitting a Fraser’s pub for lunch on Thursday watching Michigan State take on Temple, it sure made you miss the days when Michigan basketball figured prominently in the tourney. My wife, a Michigan State grad, actually had the stones to ask me if Michigan was ever involved in these “brackets”.
Yes, Michigan’s been more than involved in fact the Wolverines have appeared in six Final Fours (four according to the NCAA record books after wiping the records of the Fab 5) and have made it to the NCAA finals in each of the four decades prior to this one. Not looking good for the 2000s.
This installment of eBay Watch takes a look at a ticket stub from one of those appearances, in this case the 1976 NCAA Finals. That season remains one of the most notable seasons in college hoop history as Bobby Knight’s Indiana ’76 squad are still the last to finish undefeated. Most Michigan fans know that it was the Wolverines that were the final obstacle to IU’s perfection, falling 86-68 on Monday March 29, 1976 at Philadelphia’s Spectrum. Here’s the ticket stub that’s on eBay right now:
Michigan had a rocky path through the field of 32 [full bracket] that season, squeaking past Wichita State 74-73 in the first round, then past Notre Dame (80-76) and Missouri (95-88, a crazy amount of points to score before the 3 pointer was instituted) to reach the Final Four.
Many don’t know that two teams actually entered 1976 Final Four undefeated as the Scarlett Knights of Rutgers were 31-0. The Wolverines had little trouble hanging the first L on Rutgers continuing the high scoring effort, 86-70.
As for the finals, there’s not-so-surprisingly little written about the game on mgoblue.com or at the Bentley museum about Johnny Orr’s 1975-76 hoops squad. Shoot, I can tell you who was on the game program for the Stanford football game that year (Leach), but little on the basketball season. A query into the statistics archive on mgoblue.com runs down schedule/results that season and from there you can dig into the stats of the final game.
Michigan dropped seven games, three of those to Indiana whom the Wolverines played tough in the regular season, losing by just 6 (at Crisler) and 5 points (in Bloomington). Other losses were to Tennessee, UNLV (gave up 108) and to Illinois and Minnesota in conference.
As far as the final, Michigan actually came out strong and led 35-29 at the break. The Hoosiers were not to be denied dropping a whopping 57 points on Coach Orr and company, outscoring the Wolverines by 24 in the half. Just looking at the stats, Michigan’s lack of depth may have been a factor as no player outside the starting five played more than 10 minutes and the team shooting percentage dropped 26 percentage points in the second half. Ricky Green paced the Wolverines with 18 points.
Ahh, basketball. Looking forward to having a horse in these “brackets”.
Side Note: Speaking of Coach Knight, is he money as an analyst on ESPN or what?