Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Arkansas-Michigan brings back memories
By Diamond Leung
President Bill Clinton and his family were in the stands that day to watch Arkansas advance to the Final Four.
Fab Five members Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose didn't know it at the time, but they were playing in their final game at Michigan before declaring for the NBA draft.
In a memorable NCAA tournament regional final game between Arkansas and Michigan in 1994, it was the Razorbacks who won and ended up going all the way for the national championship.
This season, the programs hoping to one day live up to their national championship legacies will meet in January after finalizing a home-and-home series. Michigan will go to Fayetteville this season in the middle of conference play, with Arkansas making the return trip to Ann Arbor the following year.
"This a great matchup between two storied programs," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said in a statement. "Coach John Beilein has done a very good job of elevating the Michigan program back to its championship status and this will be a great game to have at Bud Walton Arena. Michigan will probably be a top 25 team and one of the top teams in the Big Ten this year, so to have a game of that caliber will be great for us and our fans."
Anderson was an Arkansas assistant during the 1994 championship run and was brought in to rejuvenate a program that hasn't gone to the NCAA tournament since 2008. He'll bring his up-tempo style, and has now scheduled a game that should give fans a trip down memory lane.
It's also a rare game that Arkansas will get at home. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Michigan will be the first Big Ten team to play on the UA campus since the last time Michigan visited Fayetteville, in 1981.
Michigan holds a 3-2 all-time series lead after beating Arkansas in the 1997 NIT semifinals.
But the Razorbacks still have bragging rights from 1994, and that will be remembered when the two teams meet again.