ESPN released its new College Basketball Encyclopedia. Included in that is Jeff Sagarin’s All-Time Rankings. Sagarin ranks the Michigan Wolverines as the 13th best program of All-Time. This is certain to anger Michigan State fans who love to poke fun at Michigan’s Basketball program that struggled through the 2000s. The Spartans are ranked 15th.
Here is Sagarin’s All-Time Top 20
- North Carolina
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Michigan State
- St. John’s
- Oklahoma State
Before everybody freaks out, remember this is the All-Time rankings not the rankings of the best programs in the 2000s or even the last 40 years. I will focus in on Michigan. Yes they suffered through a dreadful decade in the 2000s. That was a result of the scandal that stripped Michigan of two Final Four appearances.
Sagarin breaks down the Top 40 Programs of each Decade. This is how Michigan shakes out in those rankings:
- 1940s: Michigan is ranked 10th
- 1950s: Michigan is unranked
- 1960s: Michigan is ranked 37th
- 1970s: Michigan is ranked 11th
- 1980s: Michigan is ranked 13th
- 1990s: Michigan is ranked 12th
- 2000s: Michigan is unranked
I know Michigan State fans are outraged because they can’t possibly fathom how Michigan’s Basketball program could ever rank ahead of their program. I will attempt to explain why. Michigan State had a dominant decade in the 2000s and they were very good in the 1990s. Yes they won a National Championship in the 1970s with Magic Johnson but they didn’t have a dominating decade in the ‘70s.
Here is how the Spartans ranked by decade:
- 1940s: Michigan State is unranked
- 1950s: Michigan State is ranked 21st
- 1960s: Michigan State is unranked
- 1970s: Michigan State is ranked 32nd
- 1980s: Michigan State is unranked
- 1990s: Michigan State is ranked 13th
- 2000s: Michigan State is ranked 5th
“We’ve had a strange career here,” Tom Izzo said. “Good in the ’50s, down in the ’60s and ’70s [save a title in 1979 and a regional final appearance in ’78], average half of the ’80s, good the rest of, started better in the ’90s and in the last 12 years we’ve been damn good. “We’re not as consistent as some programs, but I’m surprised so many Big Ten programs are in there.”
Up until the scandal Michigan Basketball had been a model of consistency. In the ‘40s Michigan posted a 113-83 record and a Western Conference Championship.
The 1950s saw Michigan slump to 99-121 which is the only losing decade they had in the Sagarin rankings.
Michigan had some great years in the 1960s. The Wolverines won three straight Big Ten Championships (1964-67) and made 3 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including back-to-back Final Fours and an appearance in the 1965 National Championship game. All-American’s Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin powered Michigan during that run.
Michigan enjoyed an outstanding decade in the ‘70s with a 179-97 record and 4 NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1976 the Wolverines appeared in the National Championship game. Michigan also made it to the Great 8 in 1974 and ’77. The Wolverines won two Big Ten Titles and had 7 All-Americans in the ‘70s.
Michigan continued to thrive in the ‘80s posting a 214-100 record capped with a National Championship in 1989. Michigan won 2 Big Ten Championships and made 5 straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament (1985-89). Five Wolverines earned All-American honors in the ‘80s.
Michigan had another outstanding run in the ‘90s that was fueled by the Fab Five. The Wolverines appeared in back-to-back NCAA Championship games in 1992 and 93. They also were in the Great 8 in 1994. In all Michigan made 7 NCAA Tournament appearances in the ‘90s. Michigan’s record in the ‘90s was 215-111. However, due to NCAA sanctions Michigan has vacated all records from 5 seasons in the decade and wiped 113 wins and 57 losses from the books.
Due in large part to those sanctions Michigan struggled through the 2000s as they were 165-151. Michigan did return to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and advanced to the second round.
With John Beilein at the controls the 2010s promise to be an exciting decade of Michigan Basketball.