Michigan clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title Saturday with their 66-56 home victory over Minnesota.
A loss by Michigan State in either of it's 2 remaining games, ( Iowa/at Ohio State) or by Wisconsin ( Purdue/at Nebraska ), or for Michigan, a win against Illinois at home on Tuesday or at Indiana next weekend, and Michigan is Big Ten Champion all by itself for the first time since 1986.
Still a foggy picture in the league tournament seeding. Michigan (13-3) is likely #1 as of right now, with Wisconsin (11-5) likely #2.
After that, Michigan State (11-5), with 2 tough games remaining, needs a victory to ensure at least a 3rd place finish, while Iowa (9-7), and Nebraska (9-7) are tied for 4th, with the tiebreaker belonging to Iowa, who beat Nebraska in their only meeting this season. These 5 teams are fighting to get a 1st round bye, with the top 4 seeds getting the automatic advancement to round #2.
Next up: at home tomorrow night against a resurgent Illinois team who has won it's last 3 in a row, (including a stinging defeat of MSU at their place).
UT managed to grab victory from the jaws of defeat on Saturday.
Trailing the entire game, and down by 12 with 3:30 to go, they went on a 14-2 run over the next 2:30 and sent the game to OT, where they dominated 18-9 in the extra frame.
They now hold the cards for best record in the MAC, tied with Buffalo and WMU. They hold the tiebreak over both with superior overall record, and head 2 head matchup.
@ CMU on 3/4
Home vs EMU on 3/7
They should take care of CMU but they have been shaky on the road recently, dropping their last road game to woeful NIU, and being dismantled up at EMU.
Last game, at home vs EMU. They must find a way to beat the zone defense EMU used to perfection on them last time out.
If they win out, probably still on the outside looking in for an at large, but should they win out and then lose in the MAC champ game, they will probably at least be in the conversation for a bid, but likely they need to win it all to get in.
Yeah, I've seen them being placed as a #12 or #13 seed.
I think they could really prove to be a tough matchup for their opponents in that game, and they stand a good chance of pulling the upset on some of them.
If their opponent can't throw a defense at Toledo that stops them, UT will drop 90 on them.
March 5, 2014
A banner year
They handed John Beilein the Big Ten championship trophy Tuesday night, the culmination of countless hours of sweat and striving, throughout 17 conference fistfights. He doesn't have to share it with any conference colleague, but quickly passed it off to those who also fought for it.
Beilein didn't preen and pose with the trophy, making it a "Hey, look at me" moment. That's not his style, and never will be. He handed it to fifth-year senior captain Jordan Morgan, one who stayed and is once again a champion.
Morgan shared it with the rest, the unselfishness characterizing this team carrying right over into trophy assists. They took a moment, far from the adoring crowds at Crisler Center, and just soaked in the accomplishment.
They're the first to insistently admit the ride's far from over. Or, as Beilein would say, there's still a lot more fun to be enjoyed.
But don't for a minute shove this moment aside, in a hasty rush toward March Madness. That's all cascading toward the Wolverines like an avalanche anyway.
Take this and savor it.
Winning the Big Ten regular-season championship isn't the most spotlighted achievement possible for this team. It's simply the toughest.
It's 18 games in a grueling schedule, half of them in arenas where you're as welcome as butcher at a vegan convention. One-hundred years of hate, they call it, and that's not far off.
It's 18 games of increasingly precise scouting reports, opponents knowing every freckle, and many more than willing to scrape them off your face. It's hanging on in places like Nebraska, and wondering what hit you in Iowa.
It's the ecstasy of finally winning at the Kohl Center, and the agony of having a girder figuratively fall on your head (again) in Assembly Hall. It's back-breaker of losing Mitch McGary for the entire Big Ten season, and season-maker of watching new standouts emerge.
It's taking on the preseason No. 1 team in America, twice, and rendering hands - that haven't already been broken in frustration - both empty and balled into fists. It's overcoming, without excuse or regret.
The Big Ten Tournament is all kinds of fun, and Michigan finds itself in its best-ever position to reach Sunday's championship contest. As the No. 1 seed, the Wolverines draw the noon slot on Friday in Indianapolis and, barring a slipup, get to watch familiar faces pummel each other.
It's a great warm-up to The Big Dance, and nice measuring stick. In 13 of the tournament's 16 years, the No. 1 or 2 seed has won it. But it's certainly not the crucible of the 18-game schedule, and quickly gives way to the delicious anticipation of brackets revealed on Sunday night.
For many, it's all about the NCAA Tournament. That's what everyone remembers. What did you do while CBS' ubiquitous, brassy, theme song blares out?
That's fair. There may not be a bigger three-week spectacle in sport, and grandmas who wouldn't know John Beilein from Jim Boeheim grab brackets and join in the fun.
Michigan's near miss in the regular season finale against Indiana last year - remember, the Wolverines are one kinder roll on the rim from three straight Big Ten championships - was quickly forgotten in the thrilling run to the title game. The Wolverines are as excited as anyone for the do-or-die moments to come.
They know all too well, though, how ephemeral the tournament magic can be. Such is the gripping drama of March, but it's also the devastating pain producer.
Just ask Morgan what a tough night at tourney time can mean. The Wolverines experienced one against a different John Groce team two years ago, and Morgan wound up with tears flowing freely over the NCAA run for seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass that never materialized.
Just ask Kansas, which rocked Michigan, chalked out a police-style Wolverine corpse on the pavement, and Jayhawked U-M into a 68-54 deficit with less than seven minutes to play last year. Hey, the Wolverines were leaving with a solid season, near miss in the Big Ten and a Sweet 16, after all.
That's not what happened in Dallas. Kansas opened the door by missing shots and free throws down the stretch, and Trey Burke stormed through with a three-pointer from somewhere near Mexico City.
Some Michigan rooters literally booked flight reservations out of Dallas in those waning moments, before Michigan's unthinkable overtime win materialized. They, like the Wolverines, decided to stick around, and eventually move on to Atlanta.
So much drama remains, starting with finishing out the regular season properly against an Indiana team that stole one at Crisler in the closing moment last year. After that, anything can happen.
But for this moment, a Big Ten regular-season championship cannot be slighted. Nobody else survived the gauntlet. Nobody else held it together like Beilein's crew, through bumps, bruises, missed calls and airballs.
Seven Big Ten road wins? That's more than a Michigan team managed since Jalen Rose & Co. put on a show in 1992-93, on the way to a Final Four in The Big Easy. It wasn't easy then, and it's not easy now.
Seven? That's more wins than four Big Ten teams have managed anywhere in the league. For teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State, desperately clinging to hope for help in catching up, the Wolverines had to be incredibly frustrating to watch.
Sometimes, they teased, like falling behind Purdue by 19 before Glenn Robinson III's buzzer-beating sweet roll in Mackey Arena. Sometimes, they turned it up, like during a comeback victory on Hades Hardcourt in Columbus.
And when it came time to close things out, they simply torched. A Sweet 16 three-pointers, if you will, making Illinois coach John Groce marvel over a perfect storm.
Before the Wolverines created it, they weathered one.
No Trey Burke, without whom the Wolverines would drop like a de-bladed helicopter, promised the Michigan haters. No Tim Hardaway, Jr., a second early entry NBA performer off Michigan's title-game team. And no McGary, the component figuring to give Beilein's crew its greatest hope of any banner.
No matter. They'll hang one anyway, for the truest test in the toughest league in America.
It's not everything. Those who climbed one step from the mountaintop a year ago know better than anyone. But it's a big deal, and a moment to savor.
Fifty years from now, when Stauskas brings his grandkids into Crisler Center, he'll point to that banner, and maybe even add a shoulder shake. For him and every last one among this crew, it's well earned.
Yes, this one will be fun!
Enjoy the game.
Go Green !!!
I think the Rockets are out.
Toledo REALLY needs VCU to beat St. Joe's. (which would discount the three W's that the Hawks had vs. the Dayton Flyers)
sharty played well, and we didn't...Not gonna lie!
I did, however, manage to turn the TV off, before game's end.
Heaven forbid, watching them celebrate.
They won a post season tournament, but we Won the Big 10 Championship.
Gawd...why do I hate el so much?!!!!!
I'd much rather win a tournament at the end of the season than the regular season.
Kinda like how baseball goes. I don't care if the Tigers win the division 3 years. I want a world championship.
Not comparing apples, brother.
Michigan is the Big 10 Champion, period.
Good luck, during March's insanity.
Rockets get left out. Finished #37 in RPI, second only to Southern Miss (#31) in RPI ranked teams to get left out .
So of course the Rocket's first round of the NIT has them facing Southern Miss...
Been busy getting out the spring orders, but not too busy to keep track of my bracket, or that Mighty Blue team.
Still have 11 of the 16 teams as we enter the 4th round, including Michigan taking on Tennessee Friday night. Could be a competitive game, but, Texas was supposed to put up a fight and we saw what happened there.
Michigan is rolling along right now and I think they beat Tennessee and get the rematch with Louisville, though Kentucky is looking pretty strong as they had a huge game taking down Wichita St.
On the other side, MSU is looking pretty strong. I have them beating Virginia and bowing out to Iowa St., though I made that prediction before the injury to Georges Niang.
You could say Kentucky beat Wichita State, or you could say Wichita St beat themselves.
I watched the last 5+ minutes or so of that game. One thing I noticed was that Wichita St lost ..in part ..because they missed some key free throws down the stretch.