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NCAA Tournament 2017: Beilein puts aside true love of Cardinals baseball for Michigan's Sweet 16

INDIANAPOLIS — John Beilein is the biggest St. Louis Cardinals fan you know — or know of, anyway. He didn’t grow up anywhere near the Gateway Arch; he is from upstate New York, near Lake Erie. But he fell in love with the team listening to KMOX on his transistor radio and has never wavered in his affection. Now he has an app on his mobile phone that allows him to listen to every broadcast.

And, as he’s gotten more successful as a college basketball coach, he’s been able to grow a little closer with the team. There’s just one problem with all of this: spring training and March Madness happen at exactly the same time.

MORE: Ranking the Sweet 16 contenders

Beilein had been expecting to visit the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., but he told Sporting News he is calling off that trip for a more pressing matter: His Michigan Wolverines will play Oregon in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region semifinals Thursday in Kansas City.

It has been an eventful month for the Wolverines, who were fortunate to survive a plane crash on the day they were to leave for the Big Ten Tournament, then arrived on the day of their first game and won four games in four days to claim the championship. This past weekend at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the Wolverines defeated No. 10 seed Oklahoma State in a 92-91 thriller and then upset No. 2 seed Louisville to advance to their third Sweet 16 in five years.

They also ruined their coach’s spring plans. It is a gentle sort of suffering.

When he spoke with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny about passing on his spring trip, Beilein said Matheny told him, “I hope you never come to spring training, then.”

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