Off The Strength of Back to Back #B1GTourney Championships Four Reasons Michigan Could Make a Final Four RunRead Now
The Michigan Wolverines won their second consecutive Big Ten conference tournament on Sunday. They defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 75-66 at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Playing their fourth game in four nights, including an overtime win against Iowa, and an emotional semifinal win against rival Michigan State, the Wolverines look like a team that is ready for March and a deep NCAA tournament run. Michigan avenged their two close regular season losses to Purdue to earn their ninth straight victory.
Success in the NCAA tournament is predicated on good play and some fortunate bounces of the ball. Michigan head coach John Beilein has his team peaking at just the right time, here are the four reasons they could be cutting down the nets and making a trip to the Alamodome:
John Beilein is hanging his 5th banner in the last 7 seasons at Michigan. Two for Big Ten titles, one for the 2013 Final Four and now two as Big Ten tournament champions. He is a very good tactician and teacher and understands the peaks and valleys of a college season and how to get his team prepared at the right time. Following the win over Purdue senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who finished with 15 points, had this to say about his team and coach:
We believe in each other and that’s all you need. That’s just John Beilein’s teams. They always come together at the end of the season because he teaches a lot and we grow a lot. We’re starting to come together at the right time.
Abdur-Rahkman and junior Moritz Wagner, who finished with 17 points and was named the tournament’s MOP, earned spots on the all-tournament team. These are guys that have been there, had their share of failures and understand the importance of the moment. When the stakes are at their highest during the game and moments intensify, these two will help the Wolverines remain locked in and focused. Wagner talked connectivity in the postgame presser, saying:
Connectivity. Everyone’s buying into the whole goal so much and we’re all so committed. There are no personal agendas, no egos. Well, we have egos, but we know how to set them (aside) for success. I’m very grateful to be a part of this.
Almost tempted to call it ignorance but you get the point. Young guys (freshman/sophomore) who don’t “know any better.” They are not faced with the fear or thought that this could be their last chance, as many upperclassmen are. Teams that generally find success have a balance of vets and young guys. Michigan’s young guns include Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske, who scored 10 and 14 respectively in the win over Purdue.
This team is confident and have an edge to them. You see it on their faces, especially Wagner. He likes to mix it up and talk that shit when things are rolling. That’s a good thing. Michigan answered every run Purdue through at them and didn’t back down. Early in the game Purdue big man, Isaac Haas was punishing Wagner in the post. Undaunted, Wagner lured Haas away from the basket and challenged him to guard on the perimeter. He couldn’t do it. With every three he drained, he let the crowd and Haas know about it. Simpson summed it up best saying:
We can make a lot of noise. I’m ready to get back to the drawing board, enjoy this win, enjoy being champs and get back to it with my teammates. It feels good.