Do a Twitter search for “John Beilein” and “fired” and you’ll find plenty of fans weren’t happy with the state of the Michigan program just a little over a month ago.
Now, the Wolverines — riding an emotional, six-game postseason winning streak — are one win away from the Elite Eight, and four from the national championship.
And you know what, Michigan has as good a shot as anybody, maybe even more than most.
“They can beat anybody,” legendary broadcaster Dick Vitale said over the phone Tuesday night. “They’re a fun team. They’ve got that incredible belief, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about momentum, having momentum.
“They are capable of winning the whole thing.”
Michigan (26-11), a 7 seed, takes on Oregon (31-5), a 3 seed, at 7 Thursday night in Kansas City, with the winner meeting either top-seeded Kansas or Big Ten rival Purdue.
The Wolverines, there are a whole lot of tweets removed from the days fans were calling for Beilein’s job.
“We live in a day and age of coaching today, with the social media and all that,” Vitale said. “It’s all about the moment, all about what you’re doing now.”
And Michigan is doing a lot of things well right now, led by senior Derrick Walton Jr., junior D.J. Wilson and sophomore Moritz Wagner, and a whole lot more in the supporting cast.
Vitale, 77, said he thought Louisville would be the nemesis for Michigan, because of that trapping defense, but the Wolverines fought through that for the 73-69 upset victory Sunday.
That gave the Big Ten three teams in the Sweet 16, along with Purdue and Wisconsin. The highly acclaimed Atlantic Coast Conference, with nine NCAA Tournament bids, has just one team left, North Carolina.
“We have learned the Big Ten is a lot tougher than we thought,” Vitale said. “Tom Izzo was right when he complained about the Big Ten not getting enough love.”
Vitale said he likes Michigan to beat Oregon, saying this is the game where star forward Chris Boucher’s season-ending ACL injury catches up with the Ducks.
He also likes Kansas over Purdue, and in a hypothetical matchup with Michigan, he said he gives “the slightest of edges” to the Jayhawks. But it gives him pause, much more than if he’d known about the matchup in early February, when Michigan was a bubble NCAA Tournament team.
Vitale said while Kansas’ guard play, led by Frank Mason, is so good — and it showed in knocking off Michigan State in the last round — Michigan could expose some things inside, with Wagner and Wilson, even against the likes of Josh Jackson.
“It could be a hell of a game, but they can’t think about Kansas. They’ve gotta think about one thing, the Ducks of Oregon,” Vitale said. “You’ve got two really quality coaches (Beilein and Oregon’s Dana Altman) that they don’t get a lot of national publicity, they don’t have, what’s the word, maybe ‘sexy’ way of maybe coaching,” Vitale said. “But both those guys are teachers, and coaches who understand how to play, and most of all they understand how to get the most out of their players.
“They have a really great way of maximizing the strengths of their players and also hiding some of their liabilities.”
Here are Vitale’s Sweet 16 picks:
■ Michigan over Oregon
■ Kansas over Purdue
■ North Carolina over Butler
■ Kentucky over UCLA
■ Florida over Wisconsin
■ South Carolina over Baylor
■ Gonzaga over West Virginia
■ Arizona over Xavier