Juwan Howard reveals why Michigan chose to play in NIT

On3 imageby:Kaiden Smith03/15/23


The Michigan Wolverines fell short of making the NCAA Tournament, but are participating in the National Invitation Tournament. The Wolverines defeated Toledo in their first round matchup on Tuesday 90-80. And after the game, head coach Juwan Howard explained why the Wolverines decided to play in the NIT.

“I look at it like this, we were a team that brought the basketball to a park,” Howard said. “And the other two teams, and I mean like the five guys, there was one team that had five, another team had five, and Michigan we had our five but we brought the basketball. The other two teams didn’t have their basketball, we brought the basketball and so it’s time to play.”

The stigma around the NIT being a consolation prize to the NCAA Tournament does exist in some places, with numerous teams opting out of participating in the tournament, but Michigan is not one of those places.

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“So what we gonna do? We’re gonna take our basketball and go home because they didn’t pick us in the first game? Because the other five were allowed to play?” Howard asked. “So we’re not gonna cry over spilled milk, we’re not gonna act like we’re entitled, we’re not gonna act like it’s beneath us. Our season has been a season built on adversity, unfortunately injuries, we have a young team that’s growing in so many areas and we got chosen for the NIT.”

The NIT gives Michigan five final opportunities to play alongside one another if they continue to win. And while the on-court element is important, it only scratches the surface of how the Wolverines can grow from this opportunity according to Howard.

“We respect the opportunity, we appreciate it, and we’re going to go out there and play because this is not only going to help grow us out there on the court. But this is a great life lessons that we can gain from this and that we’re also gonna grow from this. And so we’re not gonna be the team that takes our basketball and not let the other team play with it,” Howard said.

Michigan shot the lights out in their first round matchup, shooting 58.2% from the field and 56.5% from three-point range. Kobe Bufkin led the team in scoring with 23 points, and Joey Baker had a season-high 21 points as well in his fourth career start for the Wolverines. Michigan will face Vanderbilt in their next matchup on Saturday at noon ET on ESPN.