Austin Hatch checking into the game for the first time (Michigan Athletics)

Austin Hatch, who twice survived plane crashes, plays for Michigan

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It’s hard to imagine a kid going through more in his life than what Michigan freshman Austin Hatch has been through.

In 2011, nine days after he committed to Michigan, Hatch was in a plane crash that left him in a medically-induced coma and killed his father, who was piloting the plane, and stepmother. It was the second time that he had lost family members in a crash involving his father. When Hatch was eight, he survived a crash that killed his mother, sister and brother.

Hatch couldn’t walk or talk when he awoke from that coma back in 2011. On Sunday, he played basketball for Michigan, checking in with three minutes remaining in the Wolverine’s first game on their Italian tour.

“It was a special moment,” Beilein said of Hatch’s appearance on the court. “Austin even led us in the fight song after the game was over. It’s something he has worked very hard for. It was a great moment for our team; however, it was truly special for Austin and his grandfather, Jim, who was here in the stands.”

Austin Hatch checking into the game for the first time (Michigan Athletics)

Hatch didn’t do much in those three minutes, as he didn’t score, shoot, grab a rebound or do anything that showed up in the box score, but he didn’t have to.

He played.

And the simple fact that he is still here — alive and able to attend college, let alone play Big Ten basketball — is what makes him the single-best story in the country. We talk a lot about survival, and perseverance, and toughness, and resiliency when it comes to college basketball. Sports in general, really. Normally, it doesn’t mean much more than a team winning a game after they were trailing early on. With Hatch, those words are quite literal.

After the game, Hatch led the Wolverines in The Victors.

“It was unreal,” he told “To lead the team in the fight song after the game is a big tradition. I learned that early on in the recruiting process and watched U-M sing it a lot on my visits. I always thought to myself, ‘I hope someday I am in position to be able to do that.’ Just like everything else that happened today, it was just unreal to be able to do that.”:

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.