Michigan has best basketball program in country over last 11 months
Wolverines 29-1 since second week of February 2018
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The term "blue blood" is reserved for an exclusive group in college basketball.
Fans immediately think of historically dominant programs such as Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and North Carolina. Teams such as UCLA and Indiana have been in the conversation while others -- maybe Villanova? -- are entering that territory.
But nobody in college basketball has had a better 11 months than Michigan.
The Wolverines polished off another double-digit win over a ranked team this weekend, leading No. 21 Indiana wire-to-wire for a 74-63 victory.
John Beilein's team improved to 15-0 on the season and remains the No. 2 team in The Associated Press poll.
Last 30 games
There are 353 teams in Division I college basketball, and 352 of them have lost multiple games since Feb. 8, 2018 -- 11 months ago Tuesday.
The one outlier is Michigan.
Since a Feb. 6, 2018, loss at Northwestern, Michigan has won 29 of 30 games, including a Big Ten Tournament championship and a run to the national championship game.
Michigan won its final five regular-season games in 2018 before ripping off four wins in four days over Iowa, Nebraska, No. 2 Michigan State and No. 8 Purdue in New York. It then survived against Montana, Houston, Texas A&M and Florida State to get to the Final Four.
The Wolverines beat Loyola-Chicago to get to the title game against Villanova, and that's where they suffered their only defeat. The Wildcats had too much firepower, blowing out Michigan in the game that mattered most during this 11-month stretch.
After a long off-season, though, it's clear Michigan isn't moping.
Beilein shrugged off losing three of his top four scorers and had his team rolling from the first tip. Michigan has already avenged its championship game loss with a 27-point win at Villanova, dismantled North Carolina in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and is 4-0 in conference play with wins over ranked Purdue and Indiana by a combined 30 points.
As it stands there are only three undefeated teams remaining in college basketball: Michigan, Virginia and Houston.
Virginia has nearly matched Michigan over the last 11 months, but a one-point overtime loss at home against Virginia Tech on Feb. 10, 2018, gives the Cavaliers a second loss to go with their NCAA Tournament defeat a year ago.
Virginia's exit from the Big Dance was even more heartbreaking than Michigan's, as the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.
Houston, meanwhile, looked to be advancing to the Sweet 16 over Michigan before Jordan Poole's buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Kelvin Sampson's team has responded by winning its first 15 games this season.
Who will be the final undefeated team? Michigan is entering a difficult part of the schedule, with three road games coming up against Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. If it can get through the Wisconsin game unbeaten, it has a good chance to be the last team standing.
Houston plays a tricky game at Temple Wednesday, and though the Owls aren't an at-large quality team this season, they've played tough against VCU, Villanova and UCF, which will all likely be in the NCAA Tournament.
As the No. 17 team in the country, Houston will have a target on its back, especially in road conference games. Nevada recently fell victim to the same situation, losing by 27 points at New Mexico.
Virginia has the toughest upcoming stretch, with road games at Boston College, Clemson and No. 1 Duke and a home game against No. 9 Virginia Tech.
Home court perfection
The best teams in college basketball hold serve at home, and that's exactly what Michigan has done.
Michigan's last home loss came nearly a year ago -- Jan. 9, 2018 -- by one point against No. 5 Purdue.
Since Feb. 4, 2017, the Wolverines are 29-1 at the Crisler Center with wins over the likes of Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio State.
The Crisler Center has been a house of horrors for ranked teams this season. North Carolina, Purdue and Indiana lost by a combined 47 points. Ten of Michigan's 11 home wins have come by double digits.
Even though it's been an incredible year for the Wolverines, they would gladly trade any of their victories for the one loss in the national championship game.
That's the final hurdle for Beilein at Michigan. He's won Big Ten championships, Big Ten Tournament titles and gone to Final Fours. The only thing missing is a national championship, and this year's team appears to be good enough to contend.
Michigan isn't even midway through its regular season, so a lot can change before March. For now, though, the Wolverines are on an incredible run.
Copyright 2019 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.