All I remember is my jaw dropped before I scrambled to find my phone and called my mom.
“Mom? I’m going to Atlanta next weekend.”
It had taken me less than a minute after the final buzzer of the Elite Eight game between Florida and my Michigan Wolverines to make that decision and make that phone call.
If you had told me in January that I’d get to see Michigan Basketball make it to the Final Four before I’d get to see Michigan Football make it back to the Rose Bowl in my time at the University, I probably would have given you a weird look before laughing. It wasn’t that I thought it was impossible. It was just that I (and everyone else except for Dick Vitale apparently) thought it was incredibly improbable. Indiana, Duke, Kansas, Louisville, Miami, Georgetown and even Ohio State and Michigan State just all looked too good for us to have a shot. Our seeding wasn’t what we had wanted and our performance in the Big Ten tournament didn’t help push away the doubts. And to put it even more pessimistically, while I’ve been here at Michigan, we’ve made it to the Round of 32 before losing to Duke in 2011 and embarrassingly lost to Ohio (no, like…actual Ohio…not the Buckeyes..) in a huge upset last year. That one STILL is painful.
Even while filling out brackets, my friends were pegging us to lose to SDSU. If not to SDSU, then to VCU. And if not to VCU, then definitely Kansas. I didn’t have the heart to have us losing to anyone so I put us winning the whole thing. Somewhat of a joke at the time, somewhat of a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” And I looked through my Facebook messages yesterday and saw that I had been joking with a friend on January 31 that if Michigan made it to Atlanta, I’d come with and stay with him.
But somehow…we made it. We made it to Atlanta. One game at a time we shocked everyone. The Kansas one being the most shocking and probably will go down as one of the most memorable games I’ve ever seen in all of Michigan Athletics. I had screamed and even cried after Trey hit that three, and for us to win it? Man, that seemed like that was enough at the time. But it was Florida after that and with the ease we beat them with, I felt like this team truly deserved to take it all. They deserved to be in that championship game and fight to bring the trophy home.
A couple friends and I trekked down to Atlanta, and didn’t complain once about the 11+ hour drive down. It was all part of this crazy experience, a once in a lifetime experience. I was on Cloud 9 and felt goosebumps every time I stepped into the Georgia Dome. I have never felt so nervous for someone other than myself in my entire life like I felt for our team. They deserved to be there. They earned the right to be there. And I felt so blessed that I got the chance to cheer them on.
I surprised myself by not crying when we lost the final game to a Louisville team that was just too good. Tears had almost come as we made the quiet walk back to where we were staying at Georgia Tech but they didn’t fall. I think it was because I was too proud of this team for making it that far. And I wasn’t about to cry sad tears because I knew that this basketball team, Team 96, had made my college experience that much more magical. They had refuted every doubt in my mind and made me feel a foolishness of ever not believing in them. I think every Michigan fan was humbled by this team. To never give up on them until the final buzzer sounded and to not count them out before it even started. I think they reassured us to believe, that they were going to turn this program around and to buckle up for a crazy ride.
Who can say that as a student they got to see their school make it to the Final Four and win to go to the Championship in person? The list of students that can say this isn’t a long one but I am on that list.
Thank you Michigan Basketball for giving me, hands-down, the best experience of my college career. I really can’t think of anything that will beat this last weekend as a student…but then again, I now know better than to count you out for 2014.
With Trey Burke and Jared Sullinger!
The two best friends that go to rival schools but can still maintain their friendship.
Sullinger was so so nice when I met him. And this was after Ohio State lost to us. So for him to be so gracious and nice was admirable and I really appreciated it as a Michigan fan.
Video from Saturday’s game.
I LIVE FOR MOMENTS LIKE THIS.
Sorry my hand is so shaky…that’s what happens when I get excited.
And yes, that’s me and my friend screaming at the top of our lungs right after the clock ran out. I wasn’t lying when I said I get really into sports…
CONGRATULATIONS MICHIGAN BASKETBALL!!!!!!! A 56-51 W over the Ohio State Buckeyes!
IT’S GREAT TO BE A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE.
Another win for the boys in Maize :) GO BLUE!
UNDEFEATED AT HOME. BEAT OHIO.
An article that I wrote. Check it out!!!