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B1G All-Decade Grades: Michigan

It has been an odd decade for the Maize and Blue.

Iowa Hawkeyes v Michigan Wolverines Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

While 2020 has come out the gates in relatively crummy fashion, the decade leading up to it were some of the Big Ten’s best. Huge TV deals, and overall success highlighted the 10 year span in the conference.

In an attempt to reflect upon the good times — the period of time from 2010 to 2019 — we at B5Q have set out to grade each football and basketball program over that time span.

Our fifth installment takes a look at the “Champions of the West,” the Michigan Wolverines.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Football Grade: B-

Handing out a grade for a school like Michigan is always difficult, as perception of the program as a whole seems to cast a shadow over the current state of affairs. Yes, it’s a program that has won 11 National Titles, but 1997 looks far away as we now sit here in 2020.

In the minds of a fan base that claims “Blue Blood” status, Michigan football is not what it once was. However, in the minds of an average observer things haven’t been all that bad. Over the last decade the Wolverines have gone 85-44. That puts you right in the 8-4 average, which a lot of programs would take. See the previous Iowa post, for example. At Michigan though, I think most fans expect better.

Thankfully for the Victors things have at least taken an upswing in the Jim Harbaugh days. It’s not where they want to be, but it’s better than it was to begin the decade. A lowly 5-7 season in 2014 severed the Brady Hoke ties for good, and in stepped Harbaugh to breathe life into his alma matter. They’ve had three ten win seasons to be proud of but there a lot of other measuring points when talking about Michigan football.

One thing that you have to consider for all programs, and especially Michigan, is accolades. Michigan has been to a bowl in nine of the past 10 season, but they’ve only come out victorious in two of them. That problem is compounded when you aren’t beating ranked teams either, as the Wolverines are just 1-11 against top ten opponents since 2015 (2018 vs. Wisconsin being their only win).

Neither of those things are good, but the biggest measuring stick for Michigan football is how they compare to their biggest rival, and right now, it’s not even close. Since 2010, Michigan has won “The Game” just one time over Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won eight in a row, and seem to be widening the gap each year, hanging 57 points on Michigan the last time out. Until these things change, things will stay in the B range, which won’t live up to a strong fan bases expectations.

Michigan v Kansas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Basketball Grade: A-

Over the last decade, Michigan basketball has been a very strong program. In that span they’ve won 251 games and put together three 30-win seasons. It seems that while Michigan football always seems to fall below expectations, Michigan basketball seems to exceed them.

The strength of the program is heightened when you also make it to two Final Fours in that ten year span, the latest being in 2018. The Wolverines are incredibly strong on that big stage as well, going 7-1 in Final Four games in their history. The trouble is usually what happens after, in the biggest dance of them all.

Michigan basketball has had some incredible runs over the past ten years reaching the National Championship game in both 2013 and 2018. Unfortunately for them, they went 0-2 in those contests. They lost a heart breaker to Louisville in 2013, and never seemed to have a chance in 2018 against one of the strongest teams of the decade in Villanova. The 0-2 mark continues the trend of losing the big one as Michigan is just 1-6 in National Title games in school history.

Still though, making two national title games is nothing to be disappointed in. The rest of the Big Ten would take that in a heartbeat. Even their main rival Michigan State has not been to, or won, a title game in that span (MSU has lost three straight Final Four games). As Badger fans we know how hard it is to get to those big stages, and how much harder it is to win once you get there (especially when Coach K has the ref in his pocket).

So while things may not have ended the way Michigan has wanted, it’s still been a consistently strong program. The question will be will they remain the next decade with head coach John Beilein gone and Juwan Howard entering year two.


Michigan basketball grade for the last decade

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Michigan football grade for the last decade

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308 votes total Vote Now