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Monday, January 28, 2013
Poll Thoughts: Michigan is No. 1

By Eamonn Brennan

College hoops polls might be inconsequential noise, but that doesn't make the arguments any less fun. In that spirit, I present the creatively named Poll Thoughts, which you can expect every Monday until the season is over.

The polls don't matter, unless they do.

It all depends on what "matter" means. If it means "has a tangible effect on the rest of the season" or "plays a role in postseason selection or seeding," then no, the polls don't matter. But if it means "allows a long-suffering fan base an immense catharsis after more than two decades of despair," then, well, duh: Of course the polls "matter."

You better believe the polls matter to Michigan fans Monday. For the first time since Nov. 30, 1992, the Wolverines are the No. 1 team in college basketball. ESPN Statistics & Info whiz Jeremy Lundblad cooked up some relevant trivia:

Nov. 30, 1992: Last Time Michigan Was No. 1

"Home Alone 2" and Whitney Houston. Ahhhh. The '90s.

We all know what's happened since. The Fab Five failed to deliver a national title. The Ed Martin scandal got then-coach Steve Fisher fired, forced Michigan to take down its Final Four banners and dissociate itself from the team until this year and put the program in a deep and depressing hole -- after the 1997-98 season, Michigan didn't return to the NCAA tournament until 2009.

Things couldn't be more different now. Beilein has one of the nation's best teams -- with the most efficient, and arguably most entertaining, offense in the country -- led by one of the game's great players, national player of the year candidate Trey Burke. Beilein's mix of talented freshmen and developed veterans is enviable to all but a few teams in college hoops. The Wolverines no longer play in a drab and dreary concrete slab; the recent Crisler Center renovations have made the building (by all accounts) a clean, modern, well-lit place to see basketball. Fans are back on board. Students pack the courtside seats.

Now, at long last, Wolverines fans have something tangible they can point to -- a symbol of how far this program has come, and what it still has left to accomplish. Oh, that "matters." Does it ever.

Other assorted thoughts from the Week 13 AP poll: