I’m thrilled and excited to be broadcasting the Michigan-Indiana game for Dial Global Sports this Saturday from Bloomington, as it brings back memories of many VERY memorable games for me. And this one promises to be another. When two of the nation’s top five teams go at it, anything can happen. Write this down: both Michigan and Indiana will be #1 seeds come March.
My first game against Indiana as the head coach at Michigan was settled at the buzzer as Marty Bodnar hit the winner for a 55-52 victory on January 15th, 1981. And in my last UM-IU game on February 19th, 1989 in Bloomington, Jay Edwards hit a 50-footer to beat us 76-75. And that’s just the bookends.
There were many in between as Gary Grant hit a buzzer beater in Bloomington (March 10, 1985) for a 73-71 win on our way to a Big Ten Championship. A year later, in the final game of the season,with both schools tied for first place in the conference, we got an easy one, 80-52, as we set a Crisler Center attendance record of 14,198 and won our second straight outright Big Ten Championship.
And who can forget Kent Benson’s disputed tip at the buzzer in 1976 as the Hoosiers were on their way to the last undefeated season we’ve seen in college basketball. In short, look for a buzzer beater on Saturday.
Look out for the underdogs:
If there was ever a year for an unknown or surprise to make the Final Four or even win it, this is it. Look at some of the recent happenings. Louisville was ranked #1 and then lost three straight, Duke was #1 and then got slaughtered at Miami 90-63, after a first half in which they scored just 19 points. Villanova beat two top-five teams in Syracuse and Louisville. UCLA beat Arizona then lost to ASU and La Salle beat both A-10 newbies: VCU and Butler. And what about Minnesota losing four straight after working their way into the top-ten? Illinois was in the top-ten too, but now has lost five of their last seven. Yes, there will be lot’s of surprises come March.
I feel that my good buddy Steve Fisher doesn’t get the credit he deserves as an outstanding basketball coach. I saw another poll by the so-called experts listing the top ten coaches plus another 15 honorable mentions, but where was San Diego State’s head coach? Nowhere to be found yet again. Let’s look at some of his highlights and you tell me if there’s 25 guys out there you’d take ahead of him. Fish won the national championship. He is the only coach in the history of the game to take five freshmen starters to the Final Four. Most recently, he moved to a morgue at SDSU and revived the Aztec program, where he’s currently on his way to his 5th straight season of 25 wins or better. Those are the big facts. Want some more? Let me mention a few other nuggets:
- Fisher’s won 32 straight games in California. Yes, that includes a win over UCLA in Anaheim with some kid you might’ve heard of named Shabazz.
- He has 86 straight wins when his team is leading at the five-minute mark. Your team’s behind against SDSU with five to go? You got no chance.
- Oh by the way, he’s only won 15 of his team’s last 16 overtime games.
Yes, ESPN and you others, he’s in my list of the top 10 coaches in the country.
In the grand tradition of the series, Indiana beats Michigan at the buzzer: 74-73.
- Bill Frieder
Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for Dial Global’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball. This weekend he’ll be alongside John Tautges in Bloomington as Indiana hosts Michigan. Coverage begins at 8:45 PM Eastern on Dial Global Sports.