Michigan basketball was dealt an abrupt departure from the Big Ten Tournament thanks to a Wisconsin team that flipped the offensive switch in the 2nd half and overwhelmed the Wolverines. Perhaps it was Wisconsin shooting a putrid 5-29 from the field in the 1st half that lulled the Michigan defense to sleep. Whatever the case, the Badgers caught their opponent playing a step slow in the 2nd half, caught fire, and will advance to the semifinal round with a 68-59 win.
How They Lost
Michigan led 20-17 at the half. The general feeling was that they didn’t take advantage of the horrific shooting performance by Wisconsin and let them stay in the game, especially at the tail end of the 1st half where Wisconsin put together a few hoops and drew within 3. That would end up costing the Wolverines as the momentum had shifted.
Wisconsin came out and knocked down 15 of their first 22 field goal attempts in the 2nd half to stretch the lead all the way out to 11 at 56-45. Michigan answered with a 9-0 run to climb back into it but Wisconsin wasn’t having it. They finished the game on a 12-5 run of their own to lock down the win.
The Badgers ran their 2nd half offense largely through the hands of Ryan Evans and it worked as he had his way in the post and was able to free up their shooters as a result of the extra attention. Evans finished with 12 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Ben Brust’s 14 and Traevon Jackson’s 16.
Wisconsin shot 17-28 in the 2nd half as Michigan was consistently a step slow with the exception of a brief stretch when they put together their 9-0 run.
Michigan was led by Trey Burke’s 19 points that came on just 8-22 shooting. The Wolverines were just 3-13 from long range and 10-17 from the free throw line.
The loss means that Michigan falls to 26-7 on the season while the Badgers improve to 22-10. Michigan is still in line for a top 3 seed in the NCAA tournament but hasn’t played long stretches of good basketball in some time now. Their defensive lapses could very well lead to an early exit from March Madness. The potential remains, but there is substantial work to be done.
Michigan’s 3 Stars
- Tim Hardaway Jr. – Despite tweaking an ankle early in the game, TH2 proved to be Michigan’s most reliable offensive weapon on the day. The problem was he attempted just 9 shots, making 5 of them on his way to 14 points and 9 rebounds.
- Trey Burke – Burke tried to take over the game late and almost pulled it off but the 11-point deficit proved to be too much to overcome. He had a game-high 19 points on top of 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. He did commit 4 turnovers.
- Mitch McGary – The freshman big man was tough again on his way to 9 points and 7 rebounds. He also notched 2 steals.
News and Notes
- Trey Burke was the only Wolverine to register an assist. He had 7. The other 10 players had 0.
- Michigan shot 23-57 from the field while Wisconsin shot 22-57. The difference was Wisconsin hit five more three balls and six more free throws.
Michigan will hop the bus for Ann Arbor and await the airing of Selection Sunday to find out when, where, and who they will play in the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament. Most experts seem to think it will be a 2 or 3 seed and that they’ll open in Auburn Hills, MI, playing in the Palace.
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