For as long I can remember, I have never liked the Michigan Wolverines. When I was 6 or 7 years old, my favorite color was green, so I became a fan of Michigan State. Growing up I was in the minority through grade school and middle school. Most of rural Michigan are MSU fans, while the more suburban areas, which is where I lived, are Wolverine fans. I was always a fan of the underdog, so my dislike for U of M grew deeper while I became a bigger Spartan fan. The sound of "Hail to the Victors" made my blood boil and still does to this day.
As a little kid, you almost have more joy in seeing your least favorite team lose than your favorite win. Adding to that fact is when your rival wins a lot more than your favorite team. Needless to say, I wasn't a happy 9-year-old when Michigan won the national championship in 1989. I still hold a grudge against Seton Hall for "letting" the Wolverines win that year.
All of that anger reversed to joy the next year when tiny Loyola Marymount took out the defending national champs in the second round. This really heightened my interest in the smaller schools. In addition to MSU, I started paying more attention to in-state schools such as Detroit, the directional Michigans of the MAC and even the smaller schools of Ferris State and Lake Superior State in college hockey. I'd root for anything in the state just as long as they could beat the Wolverines.
After high school, I was accepted at the University of Michigan-Flint but never changed my allegiances. People would question why I wouldn't root for U of M while I was attending the university. My response was I was at the Flint campus, and you don't see Nevada-Reno kids rooting for UNLV or any of the University of California campuses rooting for one another. If Flint ever got an athletics programs, I'd root for them, but I'd never root for the Wolverines.
It was a good time to be a non-Wolverine fan for baskeball throughout college and much of the 2000s. The program was reeling from the Ed Martin scandal, and any mention of the "Fab Five" had to be erased from the record books. Meanwhile, Michigan State rose up as a national power and thoroughly trounced Michigan on a yearly basis, much to my excitement.
Recently, U of M has turned things around a bit, making the Big Dance two of the past three years. In years past, scheduling guarantee games wasn't a guaranteed win in Ann Arbor, but this year the Wolverines haven't had much of a problem with them leading up to Saturday's contest against Alabama A&M.
I never imagined stepping foot into Crisler Arena, but when I planned my trip back to Michigan, I found out my mom, sister and niece would be going to Disney's Princesses On Ice on Saturday morning. I found this to be a perfect opportunity to catch a mid-major basketball game. The Michigan game was at noon, so I decided to suck it up since my brother-in-law and nephew were both Michigan fans and got the tickets.
It turned out not to be too bad of a deal. Since it was the holiday break, Michigan was trying to sell more tickets with an added incentive of free food vouchers. We ended up saving $32 considering the higher food prices of a major program.
My father, who is stricken to a walker and a wheelchair, was supposed to go as well, but he wasn't feeling up to it that morning. This left the three of us sitting in the wheelchair accessible area, providing an unobstructed view of the game. A few ushers questioned why we were sitting there, leading me to make them feel bad after explaining why we were missing someone.
The game progressed like many overmatched guaranteed games do. The Wolverines came out and took the early advantage, doubling up the Bulldogs 30-15. Alabama A&M made its surge and got the game to within eight before the Michigan built the lead into halftime.
At the half, there was a pretty funny youth basketball game that went on for a few minutes. It reminded me a lot of a Big Ten game, as it was high on defense, had plenty of missed shots and ended in a 0-0 tie.
Michigan came out of the second half and closed the door on any thoughts of a colossal Red Line Upset with a 15-2 run. The 3s and dunks started coming easily for the Wolverines as I gritted my teeth. It didn't help that few sections over was the U of M band playing that fight song I hate so much. On closer inspection, I noticed it was the alumni band. It was a bit weird seeing a band of mostly older adults playing at a college game.
Michigan cruised to a 30-point victory, and we filed out of Crisler. I was able to look past my disdain for the Wolverines for a day. It was the holidays, my family had a good time, and that's what really matters in the end. I have the other 364 days of the year to root against my least favorite team.
at MICHIGAN 87, ALABAMA A&M 57 12/17/2011
ALABAMA A&M 2-4 (0-0) -- J. Hunter 2-7 0-0 4; J. Crutcher 4-9 3-4 12; C. Cantey 4-11 5-7 15; D. Tabb 0-5 0-0 0; R. Martin 0-3 0-0 0; J. Ingram 5-11 0-0 14; G. Hill 1-3 0-1 2; B. Allen 4-8 0-0 10; B. Ellis 0-2 0-0 0; M. Lee 0-1 0-0 0; E. Hardy Jr. 0-2 0-0 0; J. Long 0-0 0-0 0; D. Alexander 0-0 0-0 0; J. Banks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-62 8-12 57. MICHIGAN 9-2 (0-0) -- T. Burke 6-10 4-4 19; Z. Novak 6-8 0-0 13; J. Hardaway 5-13 2-3 13; E. Smotrycz 4-5 6-7 17; J. Morgan 2-3 2-2 6; S. Douglass 2-5 2-2 7; B. McLimans 2-3 0-0 4; C. Brundidge 1-3 1-3 3; M. Vogrich 0-2 0-0 0; C. Christian 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bartelstein 0-1 0-0 0; E. Akunne 2-2 0-0 5; C. Person 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-55 17-21 87.
Three-point goals: ALAM 9-23 (C. Cantey 2-6; J. Crutcher 1-2; B. Ellis 0-1; J. Ingram 4-7; E. Hardy Jr. 0-2; B. Allen 2-5), MICH 10-22 (Z. Novak 1-1; S. Douglass 1-3; E. Akunne 1-1; M. Vogrich 0-2; J. Bartelstein 0-1; T. Hardway Jr. 1-6; E. Smotrycz 3-3; C. Brundidge 0-2; T. Burke 3-3); Rebounds: ALAM 27 (J. Hunter 7), MICH 39 (E. Smotrycz 11); Assists: ALAM 9 (G. Hill 4), MICH 19 (Z. Novak 4); Total Fouls -- ALAM 20, MICH 15; Fouled Out: ALAM-None; MICH-None.