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June 26, 2014
Maize 'N View: U-M hoops can make history tonight
On April 8, 2013, five Wolverines took to the floor at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta hoping to knock off Louisville and capture a national championship. They came up just short, but two years later the quintet has another chance to make program history.
The starters that night were Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Burke and Hardaway were first-round picks a year ago, and if Stauskas, McGary and Robinson all go in the first round, it will mark the first time in U-M history that all five starters from an NCAA finals went in the NBA Draft first round.
The Fab Five can't claim that - Jimmy King went in Round 2 and Ray Jackson went undrafted - and neither can the 1989 national champion Wolverines, though they came close, with four of that day's starters (Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson, Loy Vaught and Terry Mills) going in the first round. Fifth starter, Mike Griffin, was not drafted..
"That's really cool to go from five starters in the national championship game to five guys in the first round - that would be awesome," said Robinson, who is the key to making it happen as he's hovering in the late first-round/early second-round territory.
"That just goes to show that Michigan has really developed its program. That's exciting and that's good for Michigan's brand."
If it happens, Michigan would also eclipse Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and others that appeared in a championship game over a 10-year span from 2004-13. Not one of the 20 participants has seen its five championship-game starters all go in the first round.
Kentucky's 2012 title-winning team came closest, with four of five starters (see chart) going in Round 1 and its fifth starter going in Round 2. That could be Michigan's fate as the draft unwinds this evening (7:00 pm, ESPN).
Florida's 2006 and 2007 championship teams put three starters into the first round, as North Carolina's 2005 team, Connecticut's 2004 team and North Carolina's 2009 team also accomplished.
But no one in the last 10 years (maybe ever, box scores preceding 2004 are more difficult to track down) has done what Michigan will attempt to achieve tonight.
What is incredible, but probably not surprising, is the consistency at which title-game starters have gone in the NBA first round. Of the 94 players (six of the 100 were still on college rosters in 2013-14), 37 went in Round 1 (39.4 percent) and another 18 in Round 2 (19.1 percent).
If not for Butler seeing just one of 10 starters from its 2010 and 2011 teams (Gordon Heyward) being selected in the draft, those numbers would probably be much higher.
U-M coach John Beilein is not surprised by the rate.
"Anyone that has ever played in the Final Four and had any success is well equipped to take on any challenge at any level afterward," Beilein told MGoBlue.com. "These guys played in front of 70,000 people in a high-level game. It doesn't get much bigger."
It's possible either McGary or Robinson, or both, slip to the second round tonight, and if that happens, it is nothing to be ashamed about.
Michigan's 2013 Final Four team might not set a program record but it would be only the second championship-participant team in U-M history (1989 the other) to see all five of its starters go in Rounds 1 or 2, and only the second team in the last 10 years (Kentucky, 2012) to do so.