Although some don't think it is fair, Michigan ended up in the Sugar Bowl in large part because of its massive fan base and strong brand. Obviously going 10-2 this season didn't hurt, but the appeal of tens of thousands of Michigan fans converging on New Orleans was a big reason why the Wolverines were selected, and so far the fan base is living up to the hype. From The Michigan Daily:
Steve Lambright, director of ticket operations for the University's Athletic Department, said that as of 3:45 p.m. yesterday, his office had sold about 13,000 tickets out of the 17,500 that were allotted to the University for the Jan. 3 game against Virginia Tech. Students bought 1,800 of those tickets at a price of $97 each.
For reference, tickets went on sale at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. That means that in approximately seven hours, Michigan moved 75 percent of its allotment for the Sugar Bowl. By the end of the week it's possible all of Michigan's tickets could be gone, as only 3,500 remained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Angelique Chengelis.
The Sugar Bowl has received a lot of criticism for selecting Virginia Tech as Michigan's opponent. The Hokies were taken as the second at-large team in this game based in part on the notion that they would also travel in big numbers to the game, but their ticket sales are off to a much slower start.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Virginia Tech had sold just short of 5,000 tickets for the Sugar Bowl against Michigan. The school was given an allotment of 17,000, although only donors and season-ticket holders have been able to purchase them so far.
Unless Virginia Tech starts selling tickets at a higher rate, this will be more ammo for critics of the Sugar Bowl's decision to pass over teams like Kansas State, Baylor and Boise State in favor of the Hokies.