ATLANTA (AP) - Michigan brushes off any comparisons to the Fab Five.
Besides, the Wolverines have a chance to do something that group never did.
Win a national championship.
Michigan, making its first Final Four appearance since the Fab Five era, takes on suffocating Syracuse in a national semifinal Saturday night that presents a clear contrast in styles.
The experienced Orange are perfectly content to wear teams down with their octopus-like zone defense. The Wolverines are youthful and love to run, run, run, which has raised obvious comparisons to the great Michigan teams of the early 1990s.
Not so fast.
“We’re nowhere near the Fab Five,” said Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III, son of the former NBA star. “They changed the face of college basketball. We try to stay away from all that.”
Michigan hasn’t been to the Final Four since 1993, when the squad featuring Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson lost in the championship game for the second year in a row.
These Wolverines have some of that same vibe, with a lineup that features three freshmen _ Robinson, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary _ and a sophomore leader, Associated Press player of the year Trey Burke.
A couple of weeks ago, King dropped by one of Robinson’s classes to talk about an era that is still remembered fondly at Michigan, even though the triumphs were eventually thrown out by the NCAA because of illicit payments to Webber.
“The Fab Five is such a tremendous story, five tremendous guys that did something special,” coach John Beilein said Friday, a day when all four teams got a chance to practice in the cavernous, 70,000-seat Georgia Dome that is normally home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Syracuse, of course, couldn’t care less about some Michigan team from two decades ago.
The Orange are ready to unleash their stifling 2-3 defense on this group of Wolverines.
“It’s going to take them a while to adjust to the zone,” said junior guard Brandon Triche, who, like the rest of his teammates, was brimming with confidence that defense is going to carry Syracuse to Monday night’s title game against either Louisville or Wichita State.
The Michigan players quickly got wind of the comments coming from Syracuse’s media session.