Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 2/17/12
John Beilein was coaching at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. None of the current Wolverine players was even born yet. Athletic director Dave Brandon was probably delivering pizzas. It's been that long since Michigan won a regular-season Big Ten basketball championship. Try 26 years. You have to go back to the 1985-86 season, when Bill Frieder was the head coach, Steve Fisher an assistant, Roy Tarpley the MVP and Glen Rice a freshman. A total of seven Wolverines from that season would go on to become NBA draft picks, including Tarpley, Rice, Gary Grant, Antoine Joubert, Richard Rellford, Butch Wade and Robert Henderson. The Wolverines went 28-5, 14-4 in the Big Ten to finish a game ahead of Indiana. It was the second of back-to-back titles for Michigan, which was ranked No. 5 nationally before getting upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Iowa State. Who knew more than a quarter of a century later, the Wolverines would still be looking for their next regular-season conference title. Or that Michigan State would win or share seven - maybe more - before Michigan won another? Sure, the Wolverines took the inaugural conference tournament behind the late Robert "Tractor" Traylor in 1998. But in the Big Ten, it's still the regular-season winner that is considered the true champion in many people's eyes, even though the tourney champ gets the automatic NCAA bid. "Where a tourney championship is wonderful, winning a regular-season Big Ten championship is very unique," said Beilein, in his fifth season as the Wolverines' coach. "It hasn't happened here in a long time. We'd love our guys to believe they can be special and do something like that." Saturday night's prime-time match-up against Ohio State will determine whether the Wolverines have a chance to finally break through and get at least a share of the Big Ten crown this season. The Wolverines (19-7, 9-4) currently are in third place, a game behind co-leaders Ohio State and Michigan State. But Michigan's schedule eases up over the final two weeks, at least in comparison to OSU and MSU, which meet on the final day in East Lansing. The Wolverines close out with road games against Northwestern (5-8), Illinois (5-8) and Penn State (4-10), plus one at home against Purdue (7-6). Winning on the road won't be easy, but they are three beatable opponents right now. So, if Michigan can knock off Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes before a "Maize Out" at Crisler Center, where U-M is undefeated this season, the Wolverines will be in position to end this Big Ten championship drought. Beilein's team has had five days to prepare for the rematch against Ohio State, which rolled to a 64-49 victory in the teams' first meeting on January 29 in Columbus. "They know the standings," Beilein, whose last title came in 2000-01 with Richmond in the Colonial Athletic Association, said of his players' approach. "You just do the math. We have a great opportunity here against a great team. You have to embrace those opportunities." Said sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz: "We're just taking it one day at a time, getting better in practice, but it's all kind of in the back of our mind." With a victory Saturday night, it will move to the front. FOLLOW SHOTS Beilein has picked up on football coach Brady Hoke's little game and continues to refer to Ohio State only as "Ohio." "I don't think there's any message," Beilein said. "We had no meeting. Brady called them Ohio, I said, 'Let's have some uniformity here.'" ... Michigan has six players averaging between 7.6 and 14.3 points. In the last four games, three different Wolverines have led the team in scoring. Four players have scored in double figures in the same game seven times this season. That balance has been a key to the Wolverines' success. "We have not had to rely on one or two guys to do it every day, and if they didn't have a good game, we had no chance," Beilein said. "That would have made us more like a .500 team right now. " ... With one victory in its final five games, Michigan will clinch its first conference winning record since the 2002-03 season. Over the last eight years, Michigan had a combined record of 58-78 in Big Ten regular-season play.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Byron Scott: D’Angelo Russell’s immaturity ‘at times’ a problem

Kevin Love: Shoulder injury ‘just a stinger’

Nets’ Joe Johnson would ‘welcome’ a trade

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Donovan McNabb: I did not throw up during Super Bowl loss

Seven teams that must target a quarterback in 2016 NFL draft

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker