Edson: One Miracle Shot Went In, One Missed

So it all boiled down to one shot for both Michigan and Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament over the weekend.

Jordan Poole’s last-second shot from downtown lifted the Wolverines to an improbable 64-63 win over Houston on Saturday.

Cassius Winston’s last-second shot from downtown missed the mark and the Spartans fell to Syracuse 55-53 on Sunday.

While Michigan fans were toasting the “brilliance” of John Beilein, some Michigan State fans were roasting the “bad” coaching of Tom Izzo.

It’s all nonsense, of course. Both Beilein and Izzo know they can only do so much. At some point, their players have to play the game and make the shots.

In Beilein’s case, his team hung in there just long enough to make the shot. In Izzo’s case, his team missed its last 13 shots and a golden opportunity for an NCAA title.

After the Wolverines won, many NCAA experts just laughed and said: It’s only a temporary celebration because Michigan will now lose to North Carolina.

Nope.

Texas A&M rolled over the Tar Heels on Sunday evening. Now you have to wonder if Michigan is, indeed, the NCAA team of destiny.

They have a clear path to the Elite Eight and Final Four. The Wolverines just have to get back to their sharp-shooting, strong defense. That’s what carried them to the Big Ten tournament title.

But in this NCAA bracket-breaking tournament, a team’s reputation means nothing. Gone are such top-seeded teams as Virginia, North Carolina and now Michigan State.

The most popular team in the tournament is now Loyola of Chicago, which won two heart-stopping games over the weekend. Loyola won the NCAA title back in 1963 – some 55 years ago – and were finally knocked out the following year by the Cazzie Russell-led Michigan Wolverines.

So there is some irony – and history – involved as we reach the Sweet 16.

And what about Michigan State, who many people picked to win the tournament this year?

They will lose a couple players to the NBA, including Miles Bridges, but will have a strong supporting cast back next season.

Tom Izzo knows his Spartans missed a golden opportunity to win their first NCAA title since 2000. There is no shame in losing to another Hall of Fame coach in Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.

But since the Spartans beat Syracuse in the 2000 tournament on the way to winning the title, they have lost to Syracuse five straight times.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.