NEW YORK — The Michigan basketball team has accomplished plenty during coach John Beilein’s tenure. Now, the Wolverines can add another accolade: back-to-back Big Ten Tournament champions.
No. 5 seed Michigan (28-7, 13-5 Big Ten) dispatched No. 3 seed Purdue (18-6, 15-3) 75-66 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden for the Wolverines’ second consecutive tournament crown.
WHY: Michigan jumped out early and never trailed outside of the game’s first three minutes. For the third straight day, the Wolverines shot well from the floor. Michigan made half of its shots and 8 3-pointers in the win.
It’s not like Purdue didn’t shoot well, either. It just wasn’t enough to match the Wolverines. Purdue was 4 of 17 from beyond the arc and was 45 percent from the floor overall.
Every time Michigan was on the verge of pulling away in the first half, though, Purdue responded. Wolverines had a scoring drought of more than 3 minutes, which saw Purdue cut the lead to 22-19 with 7 minutes, 34 seconds left in the half. The Boilermakers eventually diminished the deficit to one. But Michigan cued up a mini-run to end the half and took a 38-33 lead to the locker room.
A 18-9 run early in the second half boosted the lead to double-digits, as Michigan would lead by as much as 18. The race to the final buzzer was on. Purdue fought all the way to the end, making it a 7-point game inside of a minute remaining, but it was too little, too late.
Despite being outrebounded 38-26, the Wolverines excelled in by sharing the ball. They assisted on 18 of their baskets, while Purdue managed just 8 assists.
Ball security was another key for the Wolverines, who turned it over just 5 times and got Purdue to cough it up 11 times.
WHAT IT MEANS: Michigan becomes just the third team to win back-to-back Big Ten titles. Michigan State did it in 1999 and 2000, and Ohio State accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2011.
In joining that rare air, Michigan has immensely helped out its seeding potential for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. It’s unclear where the Wolverines will end up, but they made a rather strong case to the selection committee this weekend why they deserve to be considered for a top 4 seed in any given region.
For Purdue, the loss erased any wishful thinking it could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers will likely have to settle for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, depending on the results of games this week.
WHO STARRED: Jon Teske etched his name into Michigan lore Sunday with this championship game performance. He came into the tournament final with just 4 points in Michigan’s first three games. By halftime, he had 12 for the Wolverines and finished with 14. Teske also played tough on the glass and defensively in the post, matching up against Boilermakers big man Isaac Haas.
After a thunderous dunk from Teske late in the second half, the Michigan faithful rained down chants of “Teske! Teske! Teske!”
Moe Wagner, despite limited minutes in the first half, scored a team-high 17 points. Zavier Simpson (10 points) and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (15 points) contributed on the offensive end.
For Purdue, Haas was solid down low. He scored 23 points, going 9 for 12 from the field.
WHO STUMBLED: Purdue guard Carsen Edwards had been the best player in the tournament leading into Sunday. However, he went scoreless for first 10 minutes and 43 seconds. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
WHO IS NEXT: Both teams will have to wait until Selection Sunday to see who they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan is your Big Ten Tournament Champs! Final stats pic.twitter.com/7dncKypscy
— Chris Bumbaca (@BOOMbaca) March 4, 2018