ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl says Michigan is back to perennial Top 25 status
Bruce Pearl got a first-hand look at where John Beilein's Michigan basketball program was headed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Then the head coach at Tennessee, Pearl stood on the sidelines and watched Michigan stomp his Volunteers, 75-45.
Now an analyst at ESPN, Pearl -- who broadcast both of Michigan's wins this week in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament -- says the Wolverines are ready to rejoin the ranks of perennial Top 25 status.
"I’m not ready to put them in a class with Kentucky or Duke just yet," Pearl wrote Friday. "After all, it's been almost 20 years since the Wolverines have made it past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. But John Beilein has things trending upward for the Maize and Blue.
"This is a program steeped in tradition that is eager to get back to those days where raising banners in the Crisler Center was the norm. I think they can get there."
Pearl notes the increased talent level on the current Michigan roster, as well as Michigan's recent recruiting upswing (ESPN ranks its 2013 class as the eighth-best nationally) as reasons to believe the Wolverines aren't going anywhere.
"From having broadcast two games there this week, I can tell you the expectations and excitement level in Ann Arbor are sky-high right now," And why not? Michigan has renovated its facilities, upgraded its roster and has a great staff.
"Will all of that add up to the Wolverines becoming a perennial top-25 program? Sure looks like it from my vantage point."
No. 5 Michigan plays Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.