Now that Michigan has finally made it back to the second week of the NCAA tournament, coach John Beilein will admit that, yes, this was a pretty important step for the Wolverines.
''We were really proud that we could get the team to the NCAA tournament in 2009 and get back there in `11. That only can go so far,'' Beilein said. ''You've got to keep getting better. To get past this point was good for our program.''
Before the tournament, Beilein said Michigan would keep progressing no matter what happened. The Wolverines play several freshmen and have been recruiting well in recent years.
But for a team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier this season, another early exit from this tournament would have been jarring.
Instead, Michigan (28-7) is in the round of 16 for the first time since 1994, set to take on Kansas on Friday in Arlington, Texas, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
''We're definitely proud, honored to be able to play in the Sweet 16,'' guard Trey Burke said. ...