MI a No. 7 seed, will play Oklahoma State in NCAA tournament
Mar 13 2017 by Dustin Murphy
In a test of temperatures in Saturday's semifinal, MI proved it's hotter.
In the past four days this week, the Big Ten tournament championship was the mission and, with Sunday's 71-56 win over Wisconsin completed minutes before the 5:30 p.m. CBS show began, that run was finished.
Seniors Derrick Walton, Jr., and Zak Irvin gave MI one of the most experienced backcourts in the country, but there were questions about the young frontcourt.
Walton entered the day as the team's leading scorer and leading assist man while carrying the team over their final two games as he poured in a 29-point effort against Minnesota in the Big Ten semifinal. The only two points the Badgers managed in their first 10 possessions after halftime came on two free throws from Hayes. The Badgers held the lead only once - for less than a minute - in the first half. Each team has depth and will look for players to add contributions like Moritz Wagner, Zak Showalter, D.J.
"That's probably a product of us doing things the right way, listening to the coaches, playing together as a team, having fun", said Hayes, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to help the Badgers advanced to Sunday's championship game against MI, which beat Minnesota, 84-77, in the other semifinal.
MI stormed out of the gates with a sensational start at the offensive end.
However, Wisconsin went scoreless for over the first five minutes of the second half while MI started the half on a 6-0 run. Koenig, who was the star Friday against IN, was just 3-for-12 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range, finishing with eight points against the Wildcats.
MI stretched its lead out to 16 at one point, but Minnesota made its own charge from there, scoring 16 of the next 22 points to chop that big lead down to six around the four-minute mark. The Tar Heels play Texas Southern in game one, with Arkansas or Seton Hall waiting in the second round in Greenville, South Carolina. The Wolverines struggled to stop Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig, who did not play against MI in Ann Arbor. Minnesota took down MI at Williams Arena 83-78 two and a half weeks ago. Mason (team-high 23 points) tied the game up at 55-55 and MI called timeout with 13:07 remaining to regroup. But the Hurricanes - who have played some of their best basketball late in the season - are confident in their ability to extend their season, no matter where they play. Walton and Zak Irvin hit several free throws down the stretch as MI held on. As athletic director at Michigan State, Hollis isn't allowed to be in the room when the Spartans are being discussed.
March 8: The Wolverines are supposed to leave for the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C., but, amid heavy winds, the team plane never gets off the ground, skidding off the runway and forcing an emergency evacuation. "We had two great wins, and we got beat today by a really good team". Beilein is one of 12 coaches to take four different Division I teams to the NCAA Tournament (Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan).