Michigan 73, Louisville 69

Michigan 73, Louisville 69

Submitted by Ace on March 19th, 2017 at 3:57 PM

A sweet victory, indeed. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

As John Beilein delivered his opening statement of the postgame presser, Derrick Walton looked up to the ceiling and mouthed "oh my god."

Michigan won their second instant classic in as many games. Perhaps most remarkable is they went about it in an entirely different way. After making 16 three-pointers against Oklahoma State, the Wolverines were forced by Louisville's aggressive, switching defense to play through their big men. With Derrick Walton struggling to hit his shots, Moe Wagner and DJ Wilson stole the show.

Wagner scored a game-high 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting. In arguably the best performance of his young career, the big man used a dizzying array of post moves to punish mismatches. His biggest bucket of the game came on a move Beilein has wanted to see from him for a long time; off a pick-and-pop, Wagner got his defender to bite on a pump fake at the three-point line, then drove for a layup to give Michigan a six-point lead with 1:18 to go.

"We feed off of him," Walton said. "Because he's not afraid of anything."

Wilson's all-around impact nearly matched that of his German roommate. The last of his 17 points came in the final 20 seconds at the free-throw line, where his perfect four-for-four shooting kept the Cardinals at bay. His third block of the game ended the contest, as Walton plucked Donovan Mitchell's tipped shot out of the air and triumphantly raced into the frontcourt as the clock expired.

"Our play is kinda contagious on the floor," said Wilson. "I feed off his energy and he feeds off mine. Down the stretch when we pulled out the victory, I was as happy as I could possibly be."

Moe Wagner's best game couldn't have come at a better time. [Campredon]

Louisville led for nearly the entire first half. While neither team shot the ball well, ten UL offensive rebounds kept them out in front, and some creative officiating helped them go on an 8-0 run to close the half after Michigan had finally managed to tie it up. At the break, the outlook was bleak.

"The end of the first half I thought was a defining moment for our team," said Beilein. "A team that's not as experienced or doesn't have the poise that we had, they come back and try to win it all right away, but we won every four-minute period until we got ahead in the game."

That meant weathering a tough stretch at the beginning of the second half. Louisville center Mangok Mathiang matched Wagner bucket-for-bucket, and his putback off a missed three-pointer extended the lead to nine with 14:46 left. Then Michigan's offense really got rolling. Three straight baskets by Zak Irvin cut the deficit to three, and a short time later Wilson nailed a pick-and-pop three to get the Wolverines within one.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman knotted the game at 51 with 8:54 to play, hitting two free-throws after taking a hard foul at the rim. While the teams would trade blows, Michigan never trailed again. Wilson worked his way into the paint to give them the lead. The perimeter finally opened up a bit; Wagner knocked down a triple out of a timeout, then Walton followed suit with a signature stepback, looking as if he had no recollection of going 1-for-11 up to that point.

Derrick Walton came up huge when his team needed it most. [Campredon]

Wagner's pump-fake layup looked like it would ice the game, especially when Jaylon Johnson committed an offensive foul on the following possession, but Louisville wasn't done. Irvin coughed up back-to-back turnovers on inbounds as UL turned up the pressure, and a layup by Mitchell, who led the Cardinals with 19 points, cut the deficit to two as hearts jumped into throats and stomachs churned.

That was Walton's cue. Michigan's unflappable leader hadn't made a shot at the rim all afternoon, but when he got a step on his defender, he didn't hesitate to go up strong over Deng Adel for a layup.

Mitchell would get two more layups, but each one was answered by Wilson free throws. Wilson and Wagner embraced after the game-sealing block to send Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen.

"We're very close," said Wagner. "It's beautiful seeing each other be successful."

It sure is.

Michigan 92, Oklahoma State 91

Michigan 92, Oklahoma State 91

Submitted by Ace on March 17th, 2017 at 3:56 PM

Derrick Walton's range extended to the midcourt logo today. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Three is worth more than two.

In one of the most unbelievable offensive showcases these eyes have seen at any level, that core tenet of John Beilein's offense proved the difference.

In a tight contest from start to finish, Michigan couldn't keep Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans from getting into the paint. Evans poured in 23 points and handed out 12 assists, and many of his 16 misses led to second-chance points for the Cowboys. OSU pulled down 16 offensive boards to Michigan's six; they outscored the Wolverines 50-20 in the paint.

Michigan, on the other hand, had a difficult time working their way inside. After clinging to a one-point halftime lead because they took care of the basketball, they laid waste to OSU's defense from the perimeter, sinking 11 of their 15 second-half three-point attempts.

Derrick Walton, to nobody's surprise, led the second-half charge. After a 1-for-6 first half, Walton didn't hesitate to rise and fire from as far out as the edge of the midcourt logo, and for good reason: he scored 19 in the final stanza, hitting 5-of-6 threes.

"It's a lot of fun, first and foremost, to know you have that rock that you can always count on," Duncan Robinson said of Walton. "He's been so good and we go as he goes, so hopefully he's got a little bit more left in the tank."

"I just tapped into the fact that I know I've worked really hard," said Walton. "Just the mindset and the trust these guys have in me, that makes me go out and just play much more free knowing they have a lot of confidence in me."

Zak Irvin's 16 points included some huge second-half jumpers. [Bryan Fuller]

Robinson and Zak Irvin also hit huge shots down the stretch from beyond the arc. DJ Wilson came up with big plays on both ends of the floor, including the game-sealing free-throws to put Michigan up four before Evans drilled an inconsequential—unless you're a gambler—triple at the buzzer.

That capped one of the most entertaining, exhilarating, and stressful games of this college basketball season. So much happened in the second half that it's hard to remember that the game got off to a sluggish start; the two teams were knotted up at 11 at the under-12 timeout. OSU pushed ahead with a swift 9-0 run, then Michigan hit back when John Beilein threw caution to the wind and re-inserted Moe Wagner despite his two early fouls. Both squads settled into a groove, giving a taste of what was to come after the break.

The Cowboys again jumped out to a lead after halftime, and that was only a small part of Michigan's concern, as Walton briefly exited the game with an apparent ankle issue. He returned with the Wolverines down six points; that gap closed to two on M's next three possessions, in which Walton hit a three and dished out two assists. A pair of Wagner free throws deadlocked the game at 59 with 13 minutes to play; from there, Michigan's deadeye shooting made the difference.

Walton sizes up Jawun Evans before drilling a corner three. [Campredon]

While the Wolverines couldn't string together stops, neither could the Cowboys, and Michigan's shots were coming from beyond the arc. With that, the Wolverines needed one decent defensive stretch, and they got that with two stops at the rim—including a huge block by DJ Wilson that led to Walton's midcourt bomb—and a charge drawn on OSU center Mitchell Solomon. Subsequent triples by Wilson and Walton sandwiched around a Phil Forte two-pointer got the lead to eight with 6:47 left.

That held steady until a late OSU comeback push that appeared to be stymied by long jumpers from Irvin and Walton. Robinson missed the front end of two late one-and-ones, however, which added some serious drama to the final moments until Wilson's pair of free throws sealed it.

Michigan took this game despite a quiet performance from Wagner, who scored six points in only 14 minutes as Beilein went with Wilson at the five for much of the second half. Wilson finished with 19 points, while Irvin and Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each added 16. That proved just enough to overcome Evans and a very efficient 19-point outing from Jeffrey Carroll.

Hopefully, we can catch our collective breath in time for Sunday's game, which will almost certainly be against two-seed Louisville.

Big Ten Tournament Champion Michigan 71, Wisconsin 56

Big Ten Tournament Champion Michigan 71, Wisconsin 56

Submitted by Ace on March 12th, 2017 at 5:37 PM

Champs. [Paul Sherman]

Michigan's team plane skidded off the runway on Wednesday. The Wolverines flew to Washington DC on Thursday morning. They essentially walked off the plane and right onto the court before crushing Illinois, then went through top-seeded Purdue and four-seed Minnesota to reach the final. Today, they handed Wisconsin their biggest loss* of the season to become the lowest-seeded Big Ten team to win the conference tournament.

No matter what happens in the NCAA Tournament, this week will go down as one of the most incredible in Michigan basketball history, as much due to their play as the trying travel circumstances. Nothing reflects Michigan's incredible late-season transformation more than today's victory. With the offense not firing on all cylinders, the defense shut down Wisconsin's often-overwhelming interior attack.

DJ Wilson was a force on both ends of the floor. [Sherman]

Derrick Walton had another exemplary performance, posting 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Zak Irvin played a remarkable two-way game, scoring 15 on 6-for-9 shooting, pulling down seven boards, dishing out five assists, and playing tremendous defense both on the perimeter and in the paint.

The difference, however, was DJ Wilson. Not only did Wilson drop 17 points on a wide array of finishes, but he shut down star Wisconsin center Ethan Happ after John Beilein moved him to center at halftime. Happ went 4-for-8 with 8 points in the first half; he shot only 2-for-8 after the break, and three of his four of his second-half offensive rebounds came on one possession. With that adjustment and great all-around defense, the Wolverines cruised in the second half.

Michigan now awaits their NCAA seed, which will be revealed momentarily. What an unbelievable run.

*The 71-56 final score is identical to North Carolina's win over Wisconsin in November

Michigan 84, Minnesota 77

Michigan 84, Minnesota 77

Submitted by Ace on March 11th, 2017 at 4:04 PM

A masterful Walton kept Minnesota off-balance all afternoon. [Paul Sherman]

Can we get a recount?

Minnesota's Nate Mason beat out Derrick Walton for a spot on the All-Big Ten first team last week. Today, the difference between those two guards proved to be the difference in the conference semifinal. Walton was productive and efficient, scoring a career-high 29 points on 8-for-15 field goals and a perfect 10-for-10 mark from the line, dishing out nine assists against a lone turnover, and pulling down four rebounds.

When the Gophers mounted their second-half comeback, Walton's cold-blooded outside shooting and impeccable passing put Michigan back out in front and kept them there. Mason was productive, and nobody would accuse him of not playing well, but he needed 23 shots from the field and a pair of free throws to score 23 points. He tried to match Walton shot-for-shot down the stretch, and that played to Michigan's advantage.

Michigan came out of the gate on fire. Walton had five assists in the opening five minutes as John Beilein's offense created layup after layup. Moe Wagner hit all five of his first-half shots for 14 points, Zak Irvin went 4-for-5 to net nine, and Walton took what the Gopher defense gave him for ten of his own. While Minnesota generated almost all of their offense in the paint, they didn't make any of their four three-point attempts in the half, and that's no way to keep pace with this Michigan squad; the Wolverines threatened to turn this into a laugher with a 47-36 halftime lead.

A plane accident, the hectic travel that ensued, and three games in three days appeared to catch up to Michigan in the second half, however. While the Gophers continued to get what they wanted inside, the Wolverines left a lot of open shots short and failed to pick up shooters on the other end. A wide-open Mason three knotted the game up with 13:11 remaining.

Duncan Robinson broke a six-minute Michigan shooting slump two possession later. While the Gophers would keep it tight they couldn't close the gap again, even with Wagner limited to nine second-half minutes with foul trouble. Walton poured in 17 points after Minnesota tied it up, going 4-for-6 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line with a steal and two assists in that span to shut the door on the Gophers in Burke-like fashion.

Wagner (17), Irvin (13), and Robinson (10) all finished the game in double figures, as did all five starters on a shorthanded Minnesota squad that lost starting two-guard Akeem Springs for the year yesterday. Michigan overcame a severe disadvantage on the boards—Minnesota had a 15 to 2 edge in offensive rebounds—with superior outside shooting, transition offense, and having the only Derrick Walton on the floor.

Walton's Wolverines will face the winner of Wisconsin and Northwestern in tomorrow's Big Ten title game. The unbelievable nature of this week almost obscured the equally unbelievable turnaround by both Walton and the team as a whole in the latter half of the season. This has turned into a banner-worthy squad. They can secure one tomorrow afternoon.

Michigan 74, Purdue 70 (OT)

Michigan 74, Purdue 70 (OT)

Submitted by Ace on March 10th, 2017 at 3:13 PM

Now for a cheer they are here, triumphant. [Paul Sherman]

I'm still not sure how that happened.

Almost everything that went right for Michigan in their regular-season win over Purdue went wrong today. Moe Wagner didn't make a shot from the field and spent most of the game on the bench with foul trouble. John Beilein got so frustrated with the officiating that he picked up a rare technical. Derrick Walton had his worst game of the last month or so. The Wolverines had more than twice as many turnovers (13) as assists (six) or made three-pointers (also six, on 25 attempts). Isaac Haas brutalized Michigan's big men. The clock operator Spartan Bob'd Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman out of a potential game-winning steal and layup at the end of regulation. Purdue even hit a buzzer-beating halfcourt heave, because after all, this is the Big Ten Tournament.

Somehow, they persevered. DJ Wilson made up for Wagner's extended absence by scoring 18 of his game-high 26 in the first half, taking advantage of Purdue's big men defending in space like Wagner did the first time around. Zak Irvin alternated great and awful possessions but came up huge down the stretch, tying the game on a layup with 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation. He got to the basket twice more for the only field goals either team made in the overtime session until a desperate Purdue heave with two seconds remaining. Irvin finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, and his defense was once again a huge positive.

DJ Wilson was on his game. The arena was on brand. [Sherman]

Haas and Swanigan feasted on the interior, especially the former, who went 8-for-10 from the field to net 17 points in just 15 minutes. Swanigan made 5-of-10 twos, dished out five assists, and pulled down 13 rebounds; he also missed all three shots from beyond the arc and committed four turnovers before fouling out in overtime. Michigan overcame their struggles in the paint with excellent perimeter defense. While Purdue shot 42% on threes, they could only get 19 looks, and their primary sharpshooters were shut down; Ryan Cline was 1-for-2 while Dakota Mathias had a rough 1-for-8 performance.

Free throws ended up as the deciding factor. The Boilermakers were 6-for-13; Michigan went 18-for-23. PJ Thompson's miss on the front end of a one-and-one led to Irvin's tying layup at the end of regulation. In overtime, Walton and Duncan Robinson were able to keep the game just out of reach with perfect trips to the line.

With that, Michigan's incredible, unlikely, bizarre week continued. Despite being the eight-seed, they may very well be the Big Ten Tournament favorite from here on out; they're the only team to beat Purdue over the last ten games and they've done it twice. The Wolverines await the winner of Michigan State and Minnesota in the game currently being played on ESPN. They'll have plenty of motivation in the semifinal either way. Getting off the 8/9 seed line would be huge for their hopes of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament; if they didn't accomplish that today, another win might do it.

Michigan 75, Illinois 55

Michigan 75, Illinois 55

Submitted by Ace on March 9th, 2017 at 3:21 PM

Zak Irvin, in practice gear, had one of his best all-around games. [Paul Sherman]

While the harrowing details of yesterday's plane accident were still being released, Michigan played Illinois wearing their practice jerseys. Their normal gear sat in the cargo hold of a crashed plane in Willow Run. Tipoff was delayed by under a half-hour to accommodate the Wolverines arriving at the Verizon Center at 10:40 am for what was originally set to be a noon game.

Once the game started, however, the unusual uniforms were the only sign the Wolverines were less than 24 hours removed from skidding off a runway. Fresh off an early morning flight, Michigan jumped out to a 15-4 lead against Illinois and spent much of the duration ahead by double digits, ending the Illini's NCAA tournament hopes (and quite possibly John Groce's employment hopes) while earning a quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Purdue. John Beilein also broke Johnny Orr's school record with his 210th victory at Michigan.

Zak Irvin had his shot going early, netting 12 of his 18 points in the first half. That inital run held strong as Michigan made 5-of-11 threes in the half and forced nine Illinois turnovers on the other end. The defense was every bit as impressive as the offense. Timely weak-side double-teams from the baseline caught the Illini off-guard time and again, and the Wolverines used that element of surprise to convert turnovers into easy points.

Michigan didn't look ready to play a game. Looks can be deceiving. [Sherman]

Tracy Abrams was almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping Illinois within striking distance at halftime due to a personal ten-point run late in the first, and he kept his offense going in the second, finishing with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting. But Michigan shut down everyone else; no other Illini scored in double figures. Irvin locked down second-team all-conference forward Malcolm Hill, who mustered only four points while going 1-for-8 from the field.

That strong defensive effort gave Michigan the breathing room it needed when their outside shooting suddenly went cold. The Wolverines went only 4-for-14 from beyond the arc in the second half, missing nine in a row at one point. Lethal finishing helped, too; M finished the game a stellar 21-for-31 on two-pointers.

Much of that was driven, as usual, by Derrick Walton. The first-team All-B1G snub played at the remarkable level he has for the last couple months, scoring 19 points, dishing out five assists, and pulling down four rebounds while continually pushing the tempo to catch the Illini defense out of position. Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman looked ready to replicate last year's Big Ten Tournament breakout with 17 points, three assists, and three steals. DJ Wilson had a quiet yet efficient 11 points. Illinois was content to focus on limiting Moe Wagner, who only scored six points but had a huge impact on the other end, coming away with five steals and committing just three fouls.

Maverick Morgan finished with four points, three rebounds, and five turnovers while his "white collar" quote hung above Michigan's lockers.

This team is anything but that now. After a frightening, hectic, and ultimately triumphant 24 hours, they finally have a little time to regroup before facing Purdue at noon tomorrow. The Wolverines are the last team the Boilermakers want to face right now.

Michigan 93, Nebraska 57

Michigan 93, Nebraska 57

Submitted by Ace on March 5th, 2017 at 10:45 PM

Michigan already knew their Big Ten Tournament fate heading into their game at Nebraska. The game still had stakes, however.

One more victory and the Wolverines could feel secure about their NCAA Tournament standing. They wrapped that up early in the second half, then turned their focus to history.

Derrick Walton got his name in the Michigan record book with 16 assists, breaking Gary Grant's mark of 14 through masterful orchestration of John Beilein's offense. Walton also led the team with 18 points and five steals. He turned the ball over only twice.

With his 209th win, Beilein tied with Johnny Orr atop the all-time wins list among Michigan coaches. The final buzzer also required an update to my favorite running stat of the season:

Heading into tonight, Nebraska's worst loss of the season was by 17 points—at Kansas. Michigan doubled that margin and added a bucket for good measure.

They did so in much the same fashion by which they defeated the Huskers at Crisler. Walton played the role of distributor in the first half, working the pick-and-pop with Moe Wagner, who sunk all three of his three-point attempts in the opening stanza. Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, the other primary beneficiaries of Walton's largesse, joined Wagner as double-digit scorers in the first half.

Unlike the game in Ann Arbor, Nebraska couldn't come close to keeping pace. Tai Webster and Glynn Watson combined for 50 points on 21-for-35 shooting in the first matchup; they had 13 points tonight, going 5-for-17 from the field. The invigorated, pesky Michigan defense forced 16 turnovers and locked down the perimeter, limiting the Huskers to a 2-for-15 performance from beyond the arc.

Walton began hunting his own shot in the second half, especially when Wagner had to sit after picking up two quick fouls. He scored 11 points in the half before Beilein called off the dogs. Michigan pushed the lead as high as 38 on an Ibi Watson fast break layup from Xavier Simpson; Sean Lonergan scored his third and fourth points of conference play on the previous possession.

The final numbers are astonishing. Michigan scored 1.43 points per possession while ceding only 0.88 by the Huskers. They went 20-for-27 on twos, 14-for-27 on threes, and 11-for-14 at the line. Of their 34 field goals, 20 were assisted. With the defense taking away any threat of the outside shot, Nebraska had no means to stay close.

Michigan faces Illinois at noon on Thursday in the 8/9 game of the conference tournament, a fitting start to a postseason run with a much brighter outlook since the Maverick Morgan Revenge Tour began in January. The squad that showed up tonight—and the one that administered to five other teams their worst beating of the season—can play with anybody in the country.

Michigan 82, Purdue 70

Michigan 82, Purdue 70

Submitted by Ace on February 25th, 2017 at 7:29 PM

Derrick Walton capped his Crisler career with a vintage performance. [Bryan Fuller]

"We're not done yet," said a triumphant Derrick Walton, addressing the Crisler Center crowd after a Senior Day victory over Purdue that all but locked in Michigan to a NCAA tournament bid.

The Wolverines looked the part of a team capable of making a run in March. They scored on their first possession against the current Big Ten leaders, getting a Moe Wagner layup off a Walton assist. Those two would lead the way in a game Michigan never trailed.

The matchup of Wagner and national player of the year candidate Caleb Swanigan took center stage in the first half. The German big man didn't just hold his own: he dominated. Forcing the burlier Swanigan to defend in space, Wagner poured in 22 first-half points, making five of six two-pointers and raining in four of his six three-point attempts. While Swanigan had an efficient nine points in the half, timely Michigan double-teams forced two turnovers, and he couldn't get the defense to collapse—the normally hot-shooting Boilermakers went only 5-for-16 on threes.

"That's just my guy, man," Walton said of Wagner. "I've got an absurd amount of respect for him. We go through [the pick-and-pop] so much in pregame, that's just our little thing. He knows where I'm at. I know where he's at. With a defense like that, I feel it was my priority to get him the ball in space."

Purdue adjusted in the second half, putting Vincent Edwards on Wagner and switching on every screen, but by then it was too late. Duncan Robinson's corner three-pointer sent Michigan into halftime with a 15-point lead, and the Wolverines would push the margin as high as 22 points before a last-gasp Boilermakers comeback made matters uncomfortable for a couple possessions.

Wagner scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half. [Fuller]

Fittingly, the seniors to play a huge role in fending off that comeback. Zak Irvin struggled to score again today, but he made his mark with a big defensive play, chasing down Carsen Edwards to force a fast break miss when Purdue had a chance to cut the lead to single digits. The Boilermakers subsequently got it to a six-point game with 2:14 to play. Walton ended the threat by ducking under Swanigan to hit leaning three-pointer that beat the shot clock and effectively ended the threat.

"I silently thanked God because there was no reason I should've made the shot," Walton said. "It was probably one of the worst possessions we had all game. You just kind of dribble the ball around for six seconds. It's just one of those times. We had a lot going against us this season. It was one of those moments where it was kind of 'okay then, we finally got a good bounce of the ball.'"

"I was actually about to chase it. It was not a good shot."

Walton finished with a very Walton stat line: 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, five assists, no turnovers, and a steal. Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman both finished in double figures on combined 7-for-9 shooting. DJ Wilson added nine points and a critical stint at center in the second half when Mark Donnal proved ineffective. Xavier Simpson got into the act, hitting both his field goals—a transition corner three and an eye-opening layup after driving past Swanigan—and dishing out a pair of assists.

Xavier Simpson gave the fans a taste of what's to come after Walton. [Fuller]

The team was in high spirits in the aftermath. Asked if Irvin cried, Walton couldn't help but laugh, then said loud enough for his fellow senior to hear, "I think he choked up on the mic. He did. I looked at him."

"No I didn't!" Irvin yelled from across the room.

They know there's still more to accomplish, however. 

"We already experienced something like this where we've had some success," Walton said, referring to the wins at Madison Square Garden. "We want to show who we really are by consistently bringing the same effort."

"You've just got to spend a film session with me to know that they know they haven't punched any ticket," said John Beilein. "There's a lot of work to do. You don't know what can happen down the stretch here with teams that are trying to get in there."

Northwestern fits that description. Michigan will head to Evanston on Wednesday in the midst of their best stretch of basketball all season. The team we've seen the last few weeks could make quite a bit of noise in March. Today's win made it much more likely they'll get the chance to do so.

Michigan 68, Rutgers 64

Michigan 68, Rutgers 64

Submitted by Ace on February 22nd, 2017 at 8:45 PM

Let's review the keys to the game:

Win the game. A bubble team playing Rutgers has but one goal.

Mission accomplished, at least.

Whether due to the soporific venue, their fourth game in 11 days, the proximity to Rutgers basketball players, or simple bad luck, Michigan couldn't get their shooting going all evening. Only Zak Irvin managed to hit 50% from the field among the starters, and the Wolverines went only 10-for-31 from beyond the arc. Free throw shooting was an issue down the stretch for the second straight game.

Other than Rutgers also shooting poorly, this game didn't follow the script. Michigan outrebounded the Scarlet Knights, which entered the game as the Big Ten's best offensive rebounding team. Rutgers outscored the Wolverines 15-7 off turnovers. Irvin was Michigan's most reliable scorer. Derrick Walton struggled with his shot.

The final Rutgers possession was sufficiently Rutgers—an airballed three, a missed putback, and a Michigan rebound—for the Wolverines to survive. It's a conference road win, so the ugly nature of this game won't hurt Michigan in the eyes of the tournament committee. The Wolverines will get one last chance at a statement win on Saturday in the home finale against Purdue. Let's hope their shots are a little more homed in at the friendly confines of Crisler.