It was about six hours after the nets at Madison Square Garden had been cut down when the bus carrying the Michigan men’s basketball team pulled to a stop in front of the Crisler Center. Sunday had become Monday when the doors of the bus opened and one by one members of the Big Ten Tournament champions emerged, led by coach John Beilein.
No doubt they were a little travel weary but the smiles of victory still adorned their faces.
Michigan captured its second consecutive Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday with a 75-66 win against No. 3 seed Purdue in New York City. The Wolverines lost twice to the Boilermakers during the regular season — 70-69 at home and 92-88 in West Lafayette — and entered the tournament seeded No. 5 but won four games in four days to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, just as they did last season.
Junior forward Moe Wagner was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in wins over No. 12 Iowa, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 1 Michigan State and Purdue. Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was also named to the all-tournament team after making 21 of 39 field goal attempts (53.8 percent) and averaging 15 points per game. He also had 11 assists and committed just 2 turnovers.
Michigan now awaits to find out where it will be placed in the NCAA Tournament bracket, which will be revealed next Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. The Wolverines (28-7) have won nine games in a row. CBS Sports’ bracket analyst Jerry Palm has them as a No. 4 seed following their Big Ten Tournament title. Joe Lunardi of ESPN had them as a No. 3 seed.
Michigan followed up its Big Ten Tournament championship last season, which began as the No. 8 seed and included an overtime win against Purdue in the quarterfinals, by reaching the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 as a No. 7 seed. It beat Oklahoma State and Louisville in the first two rounds before falling to Oregon, 69-68, in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
The Wolverines now own three Big Ten Tournament championship trophies. They also won the league’s inaugural tournament in 1998 with a 76-67 win against Purdue. The Wolverines beat Wisconsin, 71-56, to win last season’s title.