No. 7 U-M (25-5, 12-5 Big Ten) has a chance to gain a share of the Big Ten title in today’s matchup with second-ranked Indiana at Crisler Center. If Michigan wins, it will move into a first-place tie with the Hoosiers (25-5, 13-4). If Michigan State wins at home against Northwestern and Ohio State wins at home against Illinois, there would be a four-way tie for the regular-season championship.
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Ann Arbor — For the second straight year, the Big Ten title came down to the last day of the regular season.
This time, though, instead of a three-way tie, it’s an outright title for Indiana.
No. 7 Michigan missed a share of the conference title after falling in the final seconds to the No. 2 Hoosiers, 72-71, on Sunday afternoon at Crisler Center.
The loss means that Michigan (25-6, 12-6 Big Ten) is the No. 5 seed in the Big Tournament and will play 12th-seeded Penn State on Thursday.
After scoring only four points in the first half, Trey Burke has exploded for 14 in the 16-plus minutes of the second half. He’s hit four 3-pointers and has eight of the last 10 points for Michigan. He’s one of the frontrunners for the Big Ten and national player of the year and the game inside the game is how he and Indiana’s Victory Oladipo are battling on the court. Burke has 18 points, four assists and three rebounds and Oladipo 10 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. It looks like it may be a dead heat for the voters who haven’t decided — ballots are due at 9 p.m. — and whichever team wins.
Michigan has led by as many as 11 in the first half and Indiana has rallied in the second half, but this game is starting to live up to its billing between two top-10 teams. The home crowd certainly is keeping Michigan in this game, but Indiana is playing like it’s going to be a No. 1 seed in both the Big Ten Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament.
Cody Zeller has benefited from several calls but the Wolverines are throwing everything they have at him, with four big men seeing action against him in the first half.
Trey Burke is starting to come on — hitting his third 3-pointer of the second half — and pulling Michigan within a point. These last 7:28 should be top-notch basketball, if the last few minutes are any indication.
The Hoosiers’ Cody Zeller has 12 of their last 17 points — and is keeping them in the game. Michigan has heated up from 3-point range, getting one each from Glenn Robinson III, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway in the last three minutes, boosting the lead to six with 15 minutes left.
Michigan has been much better in transition but still is getting pounded on the boards, 35-19.
The Wolverines had an 11-point advantage with about five minutes left but Indiana has rallied behind Cody Zeller, who had nine points and four rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Zeller has been tough in the post, drawing two fouls on big men Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary, forcing coach John Beilein to go with Jon Horford and Blake McLimans. Horford had some outstanding stretches, with two points and two blocks in six minutes.
Burke has just four points and now Indiana has switched Victor Oladipo, its best defender — and maybe the best defender in the country — on Burke. With a six-point lead, the Hoosiers need to prevent Michigan from pulling away just before halftime. Burke is the likely source of an additional offensive outburst, so the strategy seems sound.
Since Michigan’s 24-6 run, though, Indiana has scored seven of the last nine points and has cut into the double-digit lead.
Michigan has used a 24-6 run to pull ahead of Indiana by 11 points, with less than five minutes left. Trey Burke has one basket, but it’s been the complementary players, including Nik Stauskas and Jon Horford, who have provided the spark recently.
Tim Hardaway Jr. hit back-to-back drives and Horford hit a pair of free throws before Burke’s triple. All the momentum and all the energy through its hustle and defense.
Michigan’s Trey Burke has one point — but the Wolverines still are ahead of Indiana in the first half. Nik Stauskas has picked up the scoring slack, with eight points and Tim Hardaway Jr. four points.
The Wolverines now are hustling more and getting to loose balls on the floor. Jordan Morgan got to an offensive rebound among four Hoosiers and was able to get the ball on an alternate possession. Those are just small things, but they’re the things Michigan didn’t do in the first half of the first meeting, which led to the big deficit.
The crowd is into it and Michigan seems to have matched the intensity so far.
Michigan fell into a seven-point deficit in the first four minutes but has stormed back on a 12-0 run to take its first lead of the game.
Freshman Nik Stauskas has fueled the run, hitting three straight baskets — including back-to-back 3-pointers. The Wolverines have changed the tempo of the game, getting into its transition game, where it excels.
In the first four minutes, the Hoosiers have taken a seven-point lead behind a pair of 3-pointers from Jordan Hulls. What hurt the Wolverines in the first meeting was not getting a body on Cody Zeller — and they’ve kept him from scoring early today — but they have to continue to ensure that he doesn’t get easy putbacks on offensive rebounds.
Hulls has been open from defensive help on others, but he’s too potent a shooter to do that. Maybe leave Watford or Oladipo on the perimeter.
Michigan’s five seniors — Eso Akunne, Matt Vogrich, Blake McLimans, Corey Person and captain Josh Bartelstein — were honored on Senior Day before tipoff. The seniors all received framed jerseys and were cheered by the Maize Rage student sections as each was acknowledged by coach John Beilien.
It’s an interesting dynamic with this group of seniors — they don’t play a lot but contribute immensely to the spirit and psyche of this team. Person, of course, is in grad school and had a Senior Day last year but seemed to be enjoying it even more this time, knowing that another share of a Big Ten title was within reach.
Most teams have one or two seniors who get minimal playing time; this group has five — showing just how much they’ve developed their younger players and rely on them in game action.
Crisler Center is buzzing with anticipation as No. 2 Indiana and No. 7 Michigan are going through their final paces to get ready to decide the Big Ten championship. If Indiana wins, it’s the outright champion; if Michigan wins, there’s at least a three-way tie. MSU plays later today and can be the fourth team in the logjam at the top.
Michigan would get the No. 3 seed if it wins; with a loss, it would be the No. 5 seed and have to play Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.
The students, coming off spring break, were lineup up for more than a half mile — and some of them camped out last night — to get into Crisler and get into the prized seats in the lower bowl.
Indiana won the first meeting, 81-71, on Feb. 2 at Assembly Hall but has lost two of its last three and looking a lot less than the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament that it projected to be a few weeks ago.