Best Michigan Basketball Games of All Time

Submitted by ijohnb on January 28th, 2019 at 2:13 PM

To be clear on the criteria, not Top 5 Michigan wins of all time, but overall games.  You can go as far back as you want (I don’t remember shit before 89), and the general criteria is just overall badass-ness of the game along with aesthetic and historical significance.

1. Michigan v. Duke 1991 - There was something notably insidious about the realization of how good those kids were that really snuck up on you mid-way second half.  The Rose to King alley-oop may be my favorite Michigan play off all time.  That was truly college basketball’s golden years, at least on the court.

2.  Michigan v. Kansas 2013 - What is most remarkable about this game somewhat is that Kansas was all they were cracked up to be.  We trailed this entire game with a high lead of 14(!) for Kansas in the second half.  In some ways, Burke’s shot was one of the most improbable game tying/winning shots I’ve ever seen.  This game was a heart-attack from the tip.

3. Michigan v. Kentucky 1993 - “Oh I guess we make free throws now.”  A sloppy second half to this season became a Picasso painting of immense beauty in a full force celebration of NBA talent.  Webber and Mashburn were so good it was crazy, and Rose made it clear who the “actual coach” of that team was in a brilliant performance.

4. Michigan v. Louisville 2013 - I don’t want to talk about it.

5. Michigan v. Seton Hall 1989- There was a feeling of inevitability about this game. (Despite the heart-pounding ending). Michigan and Illinois were probably the best teams in the country and they had settled it two days earlier, but this was a great game and really deserved the Top 5 because it is the only time in my lifetime that we have “closed the deal.”

What are some of your favorites?



January 28th, 2019 at 2:18 PM ^

1989 national championship game.  no others close.  rumeal robinson hitting both free throws in a 1-and-1 foul with time down to just a couple of seconds were the two most clutch free throws of all time.  

CRISPed in the DIAG

January 28th, 2019 at 3:03 PM ^

First good weather day of the year in A2. There was a glow around campus. Walking around after the game, I'll never forget the sheer number of women who tossed their baggy sweaters, left their books in their backpacks and just wandered outside. And I was ready to meet all of them the the vigor of a 20 year old young man. Great day to be alive.

Maize and Luke

January 28th, 2019 at 2:21 PM ^

Has to be vs Kansas in '13. Going into that game UM seemed to have zero chance of winning that game. That Kansas team was loaded. Then the comeback, The Shot, and to finish it off in OT was amazing.


January 28th, 2019 at 2:23 PM ^

Michigan v. Kentucky 1993 by FAR.

The best part of that game was actually played during practice the Thursday before the game on Saturday.  It was an open practice so fans could watch and Kentucky practiced at one end of the Superdome while Michigan practiced at the other.  

Kentucky began draining three's from distance.  I mean Steph Curry type distance and with every make they'd go back a little further and the crowd was going nuts.  I noticed Michigan had stopped practicing and was watching them.  After a while then Michigan re-started their practice and led by C-Webb, put on a dunking display for the ages.  Between the legs, tommahawk, alley-oops, everything was dunked.  And Kentucky stopped shooting three's and watched Michigan put on a display.

Both teams were trying to get into the heads of the other and it was amazing.  The actual game was one for the ages too (best bball game I've ever seen in person) and I'm convinced that if we dont go to OT against Kentucky we beat NC on Monday.  The team gave EVERYTHING that game (if you don't remember - Kentucky was a juggernaught and deemed virtually unbeatable by the media) and they just didnt have enough left in the tank on Monday because of it.



January 28th, 2019 at 2:34 PM ^

100% agree.

The U-M/Kentucky game gets lost to history because of what happened 2 days later.  But that National Semifinal was a great great basketball game.  

I'd have it #1 on my list of great college hoops games (since I've been paying attention, beginning around 1990) that U-M was involved in.  Probably top 10 overall.

L'Carpetron Do…

January 28th, 2019 at 2:24 PM ^

THis year against Villanova, not even kidding. Every possession was amazing, Michigan busted right of the gate and ran them off the court. There was no doubt. It was domination on both sides of the court and Michigan christened Nova's new arena with Wildcat tears. It was great.

Honorable Mention: Michigan vs Florida in the Elite Eight in 2013. Michigan BOMBED threes, particularly Stauskas and the Gators didn't know what hit 'em.


January 28th, 2019 at 2:29 PM ^

1989 Illinois vs Michigan final 4

Lost twice to these guys, especially the whoopin they put on us at the end of the regular season.  To win that game was epic, then to win a great game against Seton Hall made it even better.   The Virginia game was a shooting clinic from Higgins and Rice.  Beauty is that you can watch these games in their entirety on youtube.

rob f

January 28th, 2019 at 11:19 PM ^

...LOL, because Gary Moeller couldn't destoy what was already carnage and wreckage well before he arrived.  

But no doubt Bo loved to run up the score against Illinois more than vs anyone else.  Not only because he felt Moeller got a raw deal, but also because he was convinced that Illini head coach Mike White was shamelessly violating NCAA rules and regulations every opportunity he had.


January 28th, 2019 at 2:45 PM ^

Sunday, March 6, 1977 (selection Sunday):  Michigan 69, Marquette 68.  This was essentially a #1 vs #2 matchup in Crisler the day after the Big Ten season finished and a few days before the NCAA tournament started.  They actually released the brackets during the game (the PA announcer went over them at halftime), but it was still a battle for the #1 ranking heading in to the tournament.

Even though Rickey Green was injured and only played a couple of minutes, Michigan got a good early lead and held off a strong comeback by Marquette.  Phil Hubbard scored 19 points with 8 rebounds before fouling out.

A loud, enthusiastic crowd probably only equaled by the Michigan-Indiana games of the 1970s.


January 28th, 2019 at 4:32 PM ^

I'd forgotten that one. That was Marquette with Al McGuire coaching, Butch Lee, and those ridiculous uniforms with the untucked jerseys. Followed a couple weeks later by one of the worst losses, upset in the regional final by UNC Charlotte and Cornbread Maxwell.


January 29th, 2019 at 9:21 AM ^

Yep--we were #3 at the beginning of the week, and #1 and #2 lost midweek games, so Michigan was "playing for" #1.  Because it was Selection Sunday, this was pretty much the only game going on at the time other than a couple of conference tournament championships.

You know what?  You're right--Michigan mounted a big comeback.  I don't recall now what game I was thinking of with the "big lead; opponent comeback falls just short" scenario.  

Funny; in the end, I guess all I really remember (I was there too) is (a) Rickey Green--my favorite M player of all time--being hurt, (b) having the tournament pairings announced during the game by the PA guy, and (c) the energy of the crowd.


January 28th, 2019 at 2:50 PM ^

Just because not many people remember it:

Michigan vs. Princeton. Cazzie Russell vs. Bill Bradley. A holiday tournament at Madison Square Garden. December 1964.

Princeton led by 14 points with 3:45 left...but Michigan stormed back and won it. And they made up that deficit without the benefit of a 3-point basket! Incredible.

rob f

January 28th, 2019 at 11:29 PM ^

Although I dont have direct recollection of that game, I know I've read about it elsewhere as being one of Michigan's all-time great comeback wins.

And if you're who I think you are, can't wait to hear your voice again this coming season.  Thanks for doing your thing for all of us every Football Saturday!


January 28th, 2019 at 2:52 PM ^

Since OP and others have mentioned 1993 Kentucky...1993 Michigan vs UCLA in the second round of the tournament stands out to me. Michigan was down big at halftime and came roaring back in the second half to send the game to OT. 

We ended up winning 86-84 with only 3 points coming off the bench. Jimmy King's putback sealed the incredible win. You can watch the entire thing here with commercials! Nantz + Francesa + ONIONS in the studio...what a CBS lineup. 


January 28th, 2019 at 2:53 PM ^

March 6 1977 #3 Michigan beat the #19 and eventual '77 National Champion Marquette 69-68

Ricky Green for Michigan was injured and did not play much.

Crisler was rocking. Best game I have ever seen

Image result for michigan vs marquette basketball 1976


January 28th, 2019 at 3:15 PM ^

February 23, 1974 was my favorite live game. Scored 111 against a very good Purdue team that had handed them one of their 4 (at the time) losses. It was a shooting clinic-simply unbelievable and relentless-from the opening tip until the final buzzer. I was 21 at the time...and so was John Beilein-don't know where he was!


January 28th, 2019 at 3:22 PM ^

I'm quite partial to the 2013 Sweet Sixteen game against Kansas ...being that I'm married to a Jayhawk. She insisted that I have at least one item that includes KU in my sports room, so a 24X36 photo of the Trey Burke shot is what went up, right at the front of the room for her and her family to see when they walk in.