The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

March 31, 2013

Michigan rolls into Final Four, beats Fla. 79-59

(Continued)

Michigan hadn't reached the Final Four since consecutive finals appearances in 1992 and 1993, the freshman and sophomore seasons of the Fab Five — Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King.

Webber was gone before that team's 1994 regional final loss to Arkansas played in the now-demolished Reunion Arena in Dallas, and Howard followed him to the NBA after that.

With four wins in this NCAA tourney, the Wolverines already have more tournament victories than their total from the end of the Fab Five era to this season. They had one win in 1998, and then didn't even make the field again until 2009.

Burke is from Columbus, Ohio, and grew up an Ohio State football fan while rooting for Duke basketball. The sophomore still knew of the Wolverines' history and isn't surprised to be back in the Final Four again so quickly after arriving in Ann Arbor.

"I said it in the summer and the coaches kind of got on me saying we can be national championship contenders. But that was coming from my heart," said Burke, surrounded by the sons of three former NBA players. "I knew once we put the talent with the toughness and execution, then I knew this team could be special. We're coming together at the right time."

Despite being the only team to make regional finals each of the last three seasons, the Gators haven't been to the Final Four since winning consecutive national titles in 2006 and 2007 for coach Billy Donovan.

Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy, the four-year seniors who came in not long after those titles, will leave without one of their own. They were part of the only Gators class to win consecutive outright SEC regular-season championships, but came up short in the biggest games.

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