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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
WolverineNation Mailbag

By Michael Rothstein

Trey Burke
Michigan might be a football school no matter what, but Wolverines fans have definitely embraced Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and the rest of the No. 2-ranked Michigan basketball team.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Football season is in a transitional period -- last chance to see Denard Robinson in a Michigan helmet comes this weekend in the Senior Bowl -- but Michigan’s basketball team is in the midst of its best season in decades.

The Wolverines are ranked No. 2 in the country and have potentially the best backcourt in the United States with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. We discuss the basketball team and the NCAA tournament in this week’s WolverineNation Mailbag.

Got questions for next week? Tweet them to @chanteljennings or email jenningsespn@gmail.com. Now on to your questions.

Ben from Columbus, Ohio asks Will the likelihood of the Big Ten champion having 3-4 conference losses (at least) doom the best league from getting a No. 1 seed this March?

There is still a good possibility of two Big Ten teams ending up on the top line when it comes to the NCAA tournament and I don’t think a Big Ten winner with three or four conference losses will change that. The Big Ten is the toughest league in the nation and there is really little doubting that, so I’d have to imagine as long as the winner of the league in the regular season doesn’t lose in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, there is a likely No. 1 seed waiting.

For the teams in contention, though, there might not be much difference between a No. 1 and No. 2 seed. Michigan, one of the contenders, is a likely bet to go through Auburn Hills, Mich., in the first two rounds regardless. If Indiana ends up as a No. 1 or 2 seed, it could get placed in the Indianapolis regional, which would be quite favorable for the Hoosiers. Actually, I’d think there is a decent chance that either two Big Ten teams or Louisville or Butler and a Big Ten team -- for now -- end up as the top two seeds in the Indianapolis regional. That said, there is still a long way between now and Selection Sunday.

Jay from Vancouver (@jamesjr360) asks is the perception of Michigan still a football school? Or has the successes of basketball last two years changing the culture around Ann Arbor.

Jay, this is an interesting question and one with a fairly simplistic answer, I think. While Michigan’s basketball program -- and hockey and soccer, et. al. -- would love to say the school is an all-sports school, Michigan is first and foremost a football school. When the Wolverines are good in football, nothing quite matches it in Ann Arbor. Yes, the basketball program is trending upwards and hockey has a small, but loyal, fanbase, but nothing is coming close to football at Michigan.

Now what could change that? Likely, not much. There would probably have to be a major melding of events. For instance, had Michigan’s basketball resurgence come to fruition during the Wolverines’ down football years of 2008, 2009 and 2010, there might have been a bit more room for a complete flip. But it didn’t and instead, the best-case scenario for Michigan is kind of what you are seeing now -- most of the interest in the football team and support of the basketball team when they are good.