The incredible journey continues for Michigan’s basketball team.
Michigan rallied from a 9-point deficit in the second half in Indianapolis to topple No. 2 seed Louisville, winning 73-69 on Sunday in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines, perhaps underseeded at No. 7 in the Midwest Region after winning the Big Ten Tournament, will travel to Kansas City for a Sweet 16 contest.
Two days after Michigan knocked off Oklahoma State with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Wolverines relied exclusively on shots inside the arc for the first 9 minutes of the second half.
Moritz Wagner, D.J. Wilson and Zak Irvin orchestrated the comeback, but great defense was also a big factor. Wagner finished with 26 points and made 11 of 14 shots. Wilson finished with 17, including 4 huge free throws in the final minute.
The Wolverines went nearly 5 minutes without scoring in the first half. Louisville built a 21-14 lead during that dry spell. They clawed back to level the score at 28, but Louisville finished the half with an 8-point flurry. Donovan Mitchell hit a tough 3-pointer with 1:10 left, then Deng Adel added another in transition with 43 seconds to go.
A curious foul called on Wagner with 9 seconds left led to 2 free throws and a 36-28 lead for Louisville, but that just set the stage for a dramatic second-half comeback.
Why it happened
Whoever is in charge of Michigan’s conditioning program needs a raise. The Wolverines continue to outlast teams despite having played six games in 11 days, and after traveling on game day last week because of a plane accident. The Wolverines weren’t lighting it up from the perimeter, but Wagner and Wilson led the way with their versatile offensive games.
Louisville couldn’t make a 3-pointer in the last 15 minutes, and improved rebounding helped the Wolverines complete the comeback.
What it means
Michigan advances to the second weekend of the tournament for the first time since reaching the Elite Eight in 2014.
Wagner carried the offense early when the outside shots weren’t falling. He put on a clinic of drives to the basket and post moves against Louisville’s defense, which continued to switch smaller players onto him.
Moritz Wagner was shooting ?
He is the first Michigan player to drop 25 points on 75% FG in the NCAA tourney since Chris Webber in 1993. pic.twitter.com/Y5F5kJCRWJ
— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 19, 2017
Walton has been terrific, winning Big Ten Tournament MVP and starring in the win against Oklahoma State. He missed 10 of his first 11 shots against Louisville, but Walton hit a big 3-pointer to push the lead to 4 points with 5:52 left. He added a gigantic layup in the final minute to make it 69-65.
He also played a huge part on defense, helping hold Louisville point guard Quentin Snider to zero points and 0-for-9 shooting.
Who’s next for Michigan
Michigan advances to the Sweet 16 and will play the winner of Oregon-Rhode Island, which is at 7:10 ET on Sunday.