Michigan was the last Big Ten team standing in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and so when it took the floor against Villanova on Monday night in the national championship game, it was representing an entire conference.
The Wolverines ultimately came up short, falling 79-62. The loss extended the Big Ten’s national title drought to 18 seasons, but Nebraska coach Tim Miles still felt moved to praise his team’s conference rival in a postgame tweet.
— Tim Miles (@CoachMiles) April 3, 2018
The Huskers and Wolverines played on Jan. 19., and it wasn’t pretty — for Michigan. Nebraska cruised to the 72-52 win behind 19 points from guard James Palmer Jr. Michigan star forward Moe Wagner scored 2 points.
Wagner and the Wolverines would get their revenge, though. Michigan dealt Nebraska a 77-58 defeat in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. Wagner scored 20 points, and two games later the Wolverines clinched their second straight conference title. The quarterfinals defeat effectively quashed Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament hopes, and the Huskers instead earned a bid to the NIT. Nebraska was bounced in the first round by Mississippi State, and Michigan, of course, would go on to the national championship game.
Despite the team’s diverging paths, Miles appreciated Michigan’s success. After all, a deep postseason run by any Big Ten team is a good thing for the entire league.