Michigan/Minnesota in Big Ten Tourney
The Michigan Wolverines rolled into Indianapolis while Minnesota and Northwestern were grinding out an overtime thriller. Inexplicably, the Wildcats melted down after holding a 61-57 lead with 4:06 left to play. From that point forward, the Gophers outscored NU 18-7 as the Wildcats felt the noose tighten around the neck of their tournament hopes.
What that means is Michigan gets to kick-off their Big Ten Tournament run against Minnesota (19-13, 6-12) instead of the more dangerous Northwestern squad. The Wolverines and Gophers only met once during the regular season and that was back on New Years Day at Crisler Center. Michigan won that game 61-56.
Minnesota was without Ralph Sampson III against Northwestern, but did get Julian Welch back from a minor hip injury. The hero for Tubby Smith’s squad on Thursday was point guard Andre Hollins who scored 25 points and pulled down 5 boards, he did not dish out any assists in the game. Minnesota will play hard-nosed defense, but their offense is clunky and undisciplined at times.
Michigan should be well rested and supremely prepared on Friday evening. John Bielein is a masterful tournament coach and his Wolverines are firing on all cylinders right now. Zack Novak, The Lion of Ann Arbor, and Trey Burke have been stuffing their trophy cases since the regular season concluded.
The individual awards are great and well deserved. However, these Wolverines are all about the team. When asked about his All-Big Ten honors, Trey Burke gave credit to the team’s 3 seniors. It is those 3 seniors, Novak, Stu Douglass, and Corey Person, who have instilled a Bo Schembechler “The Team, The Team, The Team” mentality that permeates the entire roster. They are most likely the tightest knit team in the country and that brotherhood has paid dividends throughout the season – culminating with Michigan’s first Big Ten Championship since 1986. It is that same bond that will carry this team during the post season.
Prediction: Michigan will cruise past the Gophers on Friday.
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