Students were lined up to get into the Crisler Center early this morning. The excitement was there. The atmosphere was there. The effort was there, but still the home team came short.
#7 Michigan (25-6, 12-6 B1G) lost a heartbreaker at home today to #2 Indiana, denying themselves a share of the Big Ten Regular Season Conference Championship, which the Hoosiers claimed outright. The loss was Michigan’s first of the year at home (17-1).
For 19 minutes and 10 seconds, Michigan appeared to be on its way to a second straight conference championship, but failure to convert at the free throw line in the final minute of the game ultimately was the demise of the Wolverines. Indiana was able to erase a five point deficit and Cody Zeller put the Hoosiers ahead with a putback with about 13 seconds left to play.
Trey Burke had a decent look towards the end, but Jordan Morgan missed the rebound putback that would have won the game for the Wolverines.
The Michigan rebounding left a ton to be desired, which is something that has happened far too often this season. Indiana out-rebounded Michigan 53-30, 24 of which were on the offensive side of the ball. Zeller had another monster game against the Wolverines, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Victor Olidipo also chipped in with 14 points and 13 rebounds as well.
I have to be 100% honest with you guys. I was disappointed with Trey Burke down the stretch of this game. While he was a huge reason for Michigan’s lead late, his control of the offense was questionable. Every time he caught the ball towards the end, he was shooting. In the final minute of the game, Michigan never ran a play once. Poor execution in the final minute and the missed free throws killed the Wolverines in this game. It was won. The Hoosiers are who Michigan thought they were, and they let them off the hook!
This team can hang with anyone in the country, and today reaffirmed that. The talent level of the Wolverines is on par with just about anyone in the country. Self-imposed mistakes are the downfall of the Wolverines. They have been through a lot this year, and hopefully John Beilein and his staff can use this as yet another learning experience for a young, talent rich team.
With the loss, Michigan will be a five seed in the Big Ten conference tournament and will have to play four games in four days, the first of which comes Thursday against Penn State. Conference tournaments are a good way to put teams on a run fast. Now that Michigan does not get a bye, they will play four games in four days if they win out. It should be a good primer for the tournament and hopefully set the Wolverines up for a deep March run.
As far as Penn State goes, Michigan knows what they have to do. The Nittany Lions’ only win in conference play came against the Wolverines, and they played them tough both times. The revenge factor should play a huge role in that game, and I expect the boys to come out on fire and take care of business.
We’ve seen crazier things happen this year, though.
Look for a Big Ten Tournament preview out sometime early this week, and as always, go Blue!