While watching Michigan beat Kansas in the Sweet 16 on Friday, longtime Wolverines fans probably couldn’t help but reflect back on the glory days.
But we’re not talking about the Fab Five, which lost NCAA title games in 1992 and 1993.
No, the only Michigan squad to lift the trophy was the 1989 team that beat Seton Hall in the title game when point guard Rumeal Robinson made two free throws in the closing seconds of overtime.
Since then, Robinson’s life has mirrored that of the program — glory, followed by a downfall.
Robinson played six seasons in the NBA, and Michigan rose to prominence with the most iconic recruiting class of all time.
Then came the falls. The Wolverines were hit with NCAA sanctions that doomed the program to years of mediocrity, but Robinson’s fall was worse.
He is serving 6½ years in federal prison in Oakdale, La., the result of business deals that led to a 2010 conviction for bank bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making a false statement to a financial institution.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports wrote an outstanding story this week detailing how Robinson, 46, still follows Michigan and, in particular, star point guard Trey Burke from prison. He watches games on TV, but won’t see the outside world until at least 2015.
How ironic that Robinson is best remembered for a couple of free throws.
■ SORRY DAD — This is the time of year when everyone is a college basketball expert.
People who haven’t seen a game all year are bragging about having Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16 on their bracket, though failing to point out that three of their Final Four picks were knocked out on the first weekend.
But just think how tough it is to fill out your bracket when you have an emotional attachment to one of the teams.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo recounted a tough moment for his son Steven, who had struggled with a particularly difficult matchup before the tournament. Steven had correctly predicted the Spartans would run into Duke in the Sweet 16, but he couldn’t decide who would advance.
“I said, ‘Steven, what are you doing?’ ” Izzo recalled on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike In The Morning.” “He says, ‘Well, Dad, I’m just not sure on this game.’ I said, ‘You know what, son? You’ve got to pick with your head, not your heart.’ The damn kid picked Duke!”
It’s the true definition of a sleeper pick. Now, the kid has to find a place to stay.
■ HE’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK, FOLKS — CBS’s coverage of the Sweet 16 on Thursday got off to an uncomfortable start.
Former Oklahoma State point guard Doug Gottlieb was joined on the panel by host Greg Gumbel and fellow analysts Greg Anthony, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith.
As soon as he was introduced, Gottlieb joked about being the lone white member of the panel.
“I’m just here to bring diversity to the set here,” he said. “Give the kind of white man’s perspective on things from the point guard position.”
Gottlieb tweeted that it was just a joke, then showed how committed to humor he was Thursday by meeting up with another Jewish friend and walking into a bar, just for the comedic setup.
COMPILED BY ADAM HILL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL