Well that's a new one. pic.twitter.com/sudwY5dEl6
— Due# (@JDue51) February 23, 2017
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.