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Michigan Basketball Should Not Play In The NIT

It's hard to accurately describe what a disaster this season was for Michigan basketball. A team that was predicted to be a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament finds themselves deservedly on the outside looking in with a 17-15 record. Yesterday was the official nail in the coffin, as Michigan played what was theoretically a basketball game against Rutgers in which they made one field goal through the first 19 minutes of the second half. It was an all-too-fitting conclusion to one of the most disappointing seasons in Michigan basketball history. Keep in mind last season was almost equally as frustrating if not for the fact that Michigan squeezed out two NCAA tournament wins as an 11 seed. As inconsistent as that team was, they were at least good enough to earn a postseason berth. The 2023 version may earn one as well but as an NIT team. If that's the case (it's all but certain at this point), they should decline their NIT invitation.

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I won't sit here and say that the NIT is entirely useless. It's a wonderful tournament for Mid Majors who fell just shy of punching their ticket to the big dance. The college basketball system, as fun as it is, is a little bit wonky. The regular season for mid-majors is essentially meaningless. Sometimes you get unlucky in your conference tournament, and the NIT is a perfect opportunity for those teams who feel like they left something on the floor. Michigan is not one of those teams. Michigan didn't get unlucky or simply came up short. They laid an egg all season. One thing I love about the age I've grown up in is that I came up at a time when Michigan basketball mattered. I've seen this program play for the National Championship twice. I've seen them with their conference and their conference tournaments multiple times. This team was a game away from the Final Four as early as two years ago. The fans, the players, and the coaches have earned the right to have high expectations, and with that comes the potential disappointment of knowing you may fall short of those expectations. That's what has happened to Michigan this year.

Say what you will about the football program, but I give the fans and the athletic department credit for holding their program to a high standard. They set a school record for wins a season last year, and there were still some people who called it a disappointment because they lost to TCU. As insane as that may be, I appreciate it and wish that attitude carried over into basketball. This isn't 2005 anymore. Mediocrity, especially when it involves a team this talented, shouldn't be accepted. The message needs to be sent that what happened at Crisler Center this season can't happen again.

From a team standpoint, no good can come from playing in the NIT. If you play poorly and get bounced early, it only adds to the embarrassment, and if you win the whole thing, the odds of Michigan losing its top 3 players likely increases. I'm not a big believer in the whole "Well, it gives you momentum going into the next season." More often than not, I feel like that's played out. This team had 32 games to figure their shit out, and they couldn't do it.

I feel so strongly about this because I adore Michigan basketball. I know how electric this program can be when things are going well. The team that took the floor this year at Michigan was subpar at best. I don't want to see the product diluted the way it was in the late 90s-early 2000s. I don't see that happening. There's still talent here, but patience is wearing thin. This team needs a culture reset right now. I hope that they look back at this season as a positive. This team deserved to be humbled. But they don't deserve to play in the postseason.