Wow. Michigan wins. pic.twitter.com/GNZLREzdyL
— Simon Kaufman (@sjkauf) March 11, 2016
Wow doesn't even begin to cover it.
Michigan played for their tournament lives against Big Ten champions Indiana, a team that ran them off their home court just over a month ago, in front of a heavily pro-Hoosiers crowd in Indianapolis. Heading into the final minute, the perimeter-oriented Wolverines had made only 4/19 three-pointers. Somehow, they were only down three.
Zak Irvin found Duncan Robinson open in the corner; after missing his first five attempts from beyond the arc, Robinson calmly tied the game with 46 seconds left.
Then Kam Chatman stripped IU's OG Anunoby on Indiana's ensuing possession. Irvin secured the ball with 20 seconds left, and as Derrick Walton took the ball up the court, John Beilein allowed the game to play out instead of calling a timeout.
I doubt Beilein imagined Walton would dish the ball off to Chatman in the corner; it's certainly not what he would've drawn up in the huddle. But Chatman—much-maligned, bust-in-the-making, 27%-career-three-point-shooter Kam Chatman—hesitated a moment, then hoisted a picture-perfect shot over Nick Zeisloft that caught nothing but net, beating the buzzer by 0.2 seconds.
With that most unlikely play, Michigan went from very much out of the NCAA Tournament to, at worst, very much in the conversation for an at-large bid; they'll have the opportunity to cement their place in the field when they play the winner of Purdue/Illinois in tomorrow afternoon's semifinal.
Much like the final play, nobody could've guessed how the Wolverines would upset Indiana. Mark Donnal and Moe Wagner combined for 21 points on 9/9 FGs while frustrating talented Hoosier big man Thomas Bryant into going 3/8 from the field with two turnovers; Wagner hadn't tallied a point in over a month. For the second straight game, Derrick Walton didn't make a field goal and didn't score at all until the final minutes, but he dished out a Big Ten Tournament record 12 assists. Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman scored 15 points on 14 shots before fouling out late; Irvin and Robinson combined to go 9/25 from the field in uneven performances for each.
While Yogi Ferrell (14 points, 8 assists) was his usual stellar self, Michigan kept Indiana from their standard perimeter dominance; they went just 4/17 from beyond the arc, and the Wolverines scored 22 points off 15 IU turnovers.
The last of those points may have secured an NCAA bid for Michigan a day after Northwestern pushed them to the brink of the NIT. It's been difficult to guess how this Michigan squad will play on any given day. Today, when it mattered most, they surprised in the best possible fashion.
Wow. Michigan wins. pic.twitter.com/GNZLREzdyL
— Simon Kaufman (@sjkauf) March 11, 2016
Michigan beats Indiana on a buzzer beater to get to the Big Ten semis and punch(?) their ticket to the NCAA tournament. By having Derrick Walton pass up a decent look by passing to Kam Chatman. Chatman, as confused as everyone else, hesitated for a moment before stroking a contested three like he was Nonconference Duncan Robinson. So, here are these muppets.
And you can't have one without the other…
How’s the running back group progressing through six practices?
“Progressing well. Just trying to get certain guys like De’Veon [Smith] and Ty Isaac to what I call a mastery level, meaning that it’s progressing past the things we did last year. Instead of going through the hole and getting tackled by a guy it’s really working some moves, try and improve your game.
“With the younger guys, they’re doing well. They’re right where I’d expect them to be. A little overloaded in some aspects in terms of the information coming in on them, but they all look good. They all look good.”
How do you keep De’Veon healthy for a whole year?
“How do I keep him healthy for a full year?”
Yeah. I mean, that was obviously the challenge last year.
”He was healthy. He was relatively healthy. I mean, any football guy who lines up and takes that first—it’s like a car. Once you take that car off the lot it depreciates. It’s never going to be 100% value. So in terms of De’Veon, I think he was healthy besides the toe. But in terms of being healthy, some of the things we’re talking about now: being able to not run down the middle of guys, taking so many hits, being able to make some guys miss. That will improve his health, but I think relatively compared to last year he was relatively healthy.”
WelpThisWasGoingToBeMyMGoQuestion: What’s a realistic expectation for the two freshmen?
“Expectation? They’re true freshmen.”
So how much would that be?
“They’re freshmen! We won’t know. Right now it’s too hard to put anything on it. I’ll just put it to you this way: it’s freshmen. They’re freshmen. I mean, they’re good freshmen, but the fact of the matter is they’re freshmen. So to put an expectation on it is really unfair right now.”
For Ty [Isaac], who probably didn’t see as many carries as he wanted to last year, getting to the mastery level, has he put in more work? Has he taken to that a little bit differently this year?
“Yeah. I mean, regardless the point of the snaps, it’s still just age and being around and hearing it, so trying to take his game to that next level. So yeah, I mean, he’s working. He worked last year. He’s working this year. Sometimes a guy may just outwork you. That’s just a thing. It’s not that he did anything wrong last year. But he’s working hard. Yes, he is. Putting in the work.”
Do you feel like Drake [Johnson] is finally back to finally maybe 100%? He’s running track, too. He said that’s helping his leg and knee strength.
“Well, unfortunate part about me, I never was here when Drake was Drake Drake. So what I saw last year and just seeing a guy who’s coming off an ACL, he looked pretty darn good. So if we can improve him and get him past that, we should be looking at a much improved Drake, and he is looking good. In terms of track, he has a little more burst to him. But just in terms of football-wise, we’re trying to get Drake to that mastery level as well. It’s moving past little things like getting tackled, little better in pass-pro, things of that nature. So he’s one of those guys we’re trying to get to that mastery level.”
[After THE JUMP: some good news re: fullbacks, more on achieving RB mastery level]
#8 Michigan (21-11, 10-8 B1G) vs
#1 Indiana (25-6, 15-4)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
|WHEN||Noon ET, Friday|
|LINE||Indiana -7 (KenPom)|
Right: Obligatory. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
A win and Michigan likely secures an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. A loss almost certainly relegates Michigan to the NIT. The stakes don't get much higher.
THE LAST TIME
Let's not talk about the last time.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||11||Yogi Ferrell||Sr.||6'0, 180||86||25||No|
|One of the best PGs in the country. Great outside shooter, distributor.|
|G||4||Robert Johnson (inj.)*||So.||6'3, 195||57||18||No|
|Excellent three-point shooter. Inefficient inside arc. Turnover-prone.|
|F||30||Collin Hartman||Jr.||6'7, 215||55||13||No|
|Low-usage, Just A Shooter™ type making 38% of threes.|
|F||5||Troy Williams||Jr.||6'7, 215||64||26||Not really|
|Great athlete and finisher, impactful defender, improved shooter, TO-prone.|
|C||31||Thomas Bryant||Fr.||6'10, 245||56||22||Not really|
|Top-flight post scorer also boasts strong rebounding and block rates.|
|G||2||Nick Zeisloft||Sr.||6'4, 210||49||13||No|
|Has attempted 139 threes and 14 twos this season. 43% 3P shooter.|
|F||0||Max Bielfeldt||Gr.||6'8, 240||43||22||No|
|Rebounding and scoring well, third-best steal rate in B1G. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯|
|F||3||OG Anunoby||Fr.||6'8, 215||31||18||No|
|Efficient inside-outside scorer, good offensive rebounder, turnover-prone.|
*Robert Johnson has missed IU's last three games with a high ankle sprain; while there hasn't been a definitive update on his status, there's a decent chance he's available to play. Forward Juwan Morgan's status is also up in the air after he appeared to aggravate a shoulder injury on Sunday against Maryland.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
It wasn't easy. It was, in fact, excruciatingly difficult to watch. In the end, however, Michigan survived a borderline-comedic series of late-game issues to eke past Northwestern, and they'll play for their NCAA Tournament lives tomorrow at noon against top-seeded Indiana.
In a tight game late in the second half, Michigan twice split a pair of free throws that could've helped seal the deal, first by Zak Irvin then Duncan Robinson. On the first occasion, Northwestern capitalized with an Alex Olah three-pointer. On the second, which kept the Wildcats within two points after the shot clock was turned off, Olah put back a Tre Demps miss with 0.1 seconds remaining to force overtime. Robinson shouldn't even have had the chance to extend M's lead in the first place; after Michigan burned two timeouts trying to get the ball inbounds, Northwestern trapped Robinson in the corner on M's third attempt, and before they fouled him the officials missed an obvious travel.
Robinson went off for 14 first-half points then was silent in the second half before his ill-fated trip to the line; his miss there was just his third of the season. That didn't shake the shooter's confidence, however. Robinson opened the scoring in overtime with a triple from above the break, and after Tre Demps and Nathan Taphorn put the Wildcats ahead by three, he knotted the ballgame at 70 with 46 seconds to go with another bomb off a well-designed sideline inbounds play.
After Bryant McIntosh missed a shot on Northwestern's ensuing possession and the ball grazed Taphorn on its way out of bounds to give Michigan the rock, Irvin rose above McIntosh for a long two and the lead with only three seconds left. The game appeared to be over when Irvin tipped Northwestern's desperation inbounds pass to Derrick Walton, who seemingly dribbled out the clock. Since nothing can be easy, though, an official review revealed Walton stepped on the baseline with 0.6 seconds left.
Mercifully, Walton was spared an ignominous fate when Taphorn's three-point attempt at the buzzer clanged harmlessly off the front of the rim.
Robinson finished with a team-high 21 points, Irvin added 16 points and 8 rebounds, and Abdur-Rahkman had 14 and 8. Walton had seven boards and five assists but couldn't get his shot to fall, scoring his only two points at the line while going 0/7 from the field. Michigan's big men were once again dominated by Olah, who put up 20 and 13 despite a quiet first half; Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle combined for just 8 and 6.
Michigan's postseason dreams are still alive for now. If they turn in a similar performance against Indiana, however, the NIT beckons.
In case the Big Ten Tournament isn't entertaining you right now…
Lovie Smith is the best Illinois football hire since…
Brian: I have no idea. I don't know who Illinois hires or does not hire.
Seth: /giphy zook
all orange and blue teams are the same.
BiSB: Maybe just "Did Illinois do a good or bad?"
Seth: Did giphy do a good or bad?
Brian: I'm assuming a bad because Illinois.
BiSB: Giphy did a zook.
Brian: But on the other hand, it seems kind of good?
I mean, Bill Cubit had a two year deal. He was already a lame duck. Maybe better to just pull the ripcord right now and get a head start on the Whoever's Next era. And, I mean, Lovie Smith was an NFL head coach for almost a decade. I'm not sure he'll do great, but amongst football coaches who would take the Illinois job in March he's got to be at the top of the list.
Adam: Probably can't be worse than this:
[After the JUMP we take Illinois seriously.]