Glen Rice’s 1989 NCAA Tournament Run Remains The Gold Standard

Michigans Fab Five is part of the most heralded and iconic class to ever play for the Wolverines. The squads unprecedented youth, impact on hoops culture and unapologetic blackness made them media targets and also immortalized them in college lure. 

They were a star-studded bunch who despite all of the hoopla was unable to accomplish what the 1989 Wolverines team did, when it rode Glen Rices lethal shooting to an NCAA title. Michigan hasnt won a basketball championship since. 

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On this date in 1989 Tournament MVP Glen Rice leads Michigan over Seton Hall 80-79 to win the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.

With all due respect to Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose, that Michigan team didnt have a totally dominant college player like Glen Rice on it. As a collective, the five freshman were a locomotive, but Webber failed them down the stretch. 

And this scrappy 2018 Michigan squad doesn’t have one player with the talent of a Rice, but the school is still just one win away from returning to the championship game for the first time since 2013 with Trey Burke and the crew. 

No player in college history has had a tournament run like Rice in ’89. Coming off of a lit junior season in which he averaged 22.1 points per game, Rice was in his bag on a whole other level as a senior. The 6-foot-8 long-range bombing forward connected on 53% of his 3-point attempts while averaging 25.6 points en route to being named the Big Ten Player of the Year.

BIG Ten Elite – 1989 Michigan Basketball

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Prior to the tournament, Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler fired Bill Frieder and replaced him with an anonymous assistant coach named Steve Fisher. Wolverines fans who were nervous about an inexperienced head coach making his debut in the NCAA Tournament had their fears eased by Rices legendary production. 

Rice averaged 30.7 postseason points, scoring 184 points in six games and leading Michigan to the school’s only basketball national championship.

1989 National Championship – Michigan vs Seton Hall

NCAA Vault – Relive history by team, year, game or moment using the new interactive play-by-play timeline – – Michigan triumphed in overtime to beat P.J. Carlesimo and the Seton Hall Pirates 80-79.

He scored 23 points in a first-round win over Xavier, then spazzed out with 36, while hitting on 16 of his 25 shot attempts, against South Alabama in the second round.

In the Sweet 16 against North Carolina, he torched the Tar Heels with 34 points, going 13-for-19. Against Virginia in the Elite Eight, he missed only three of his 16 shots en route to a another 32-point outburst.

In the Final Four, he served up Illinois with 28 points and capped his incomparable NCAA Tourney run with a 31-point explosion against Seton Hall and Australian sharp-shooter Andrew Gaze in the national championship game. During his torrid six-game run, Rice connected on  57.2 % of his shots from the floor. 

If this years Michigan team is going to win the universitys second NCAA hoops title, then it will take a total team effort. They have three players who average double-digit points, but no one who averages more than Moritz Wagners 14.3 per game. 

In 1989, Rice was a man amongst boys during March Madness with a string of performances that are yet to be duplicated. 

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