Michigan has one of the best college basketball programs in the Big Ten, if not the country. The Wolverines reached the Final Four in 2013 and 2018 under John Beilein and have reached the national championship game fives times since the late-1980s.
But they haven’t won it all since 1989, when they were led by four future first-round draft picks: Glen Rice, Loy Vaught, Rumeal Robinson and Terry Mills. The Wolverines went 30-7 that season, beating Xavier, South Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and Seton Hall in the NCAA Tournament.
The players on that team don’t mind reliving those glory days one bit.
“It never gets old,” Mills said on The DA Show. “It’s fun to even watch it on TV, to go back and see that game when it’s replayed. Understanding that I’m in my mid-50s right now and a young man was running up and down the court then, it’s surreal just to be able to see that game and knowing that you had a mark on history in the NCAA.”
Interestingly, then-Michigan head coach Bill Frieder had agreed to take the Arizona State job the following season but intended to coach the Wolverines through the 1989 NCAA Tournament. Athletic director Bo Schembechler, however, didn’t allow it. When Frieder announced his intentions to leave, Schembechler replaced him with assistant coach Steve Fisher, who would go on to coach the Fab Five and remained in Ann Arbor through 1997.
“The legendary Bo Schembechler comes in, meets with us all inside the gymnasium and said he wants a Michigan man to coach a Michigan team,” Mills recalled. “That was a big shock to us at that point, but I give Coach Fisher a lot of credit. He took every player, brought them in individually and just said what he expected. We were all on board with what he had to say.”
Michigan won four of its six tournament games by five points or fewer. The Final Four was especially close, as the Wolverines beat Illinois 83-81 in the semifinals and Seton Hall 80-79 in the national championship.
“To get it all together and win the national championship, it was special,” Mills said. “It had to feel good for everyone. It definitely felt good for myself.”