Mar. 13, 2017
Michigan ends hectic week as Big 10 Tournament Champions
Sometimes there comes a point in a game where it just appears to be one team’s day. That was certainly the case inside the Verizon Center this afternoon. Around the 8:30 mark in the second half Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman rose up from the left wing and attempted a contested 3 point shot which hit back iron and catapulted high into the air. And it descended right back down through the basket to give the Wolverines a 49-38 lead and Michigan led by at least 3 possession the rest of the way. These are the same Wolverines that survived their plane skidding off the runway Wednesday on their way to the Big 10 Tournament. They arrived in DC just 3 hours before their first game against Illinois on Thursday. They didn’t even have their game jerseys against the Fighting Illini. But despite all the adversity, they embarked on an incredible journey as they took down Illinois, top seeded Purdue, Minnesota and the Wisconsin Badgers to claim the Big 10 Tournament championship.
Senior point guard Derrick Walton Jr. was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and boy did he deserve it. A day after scoring a career-high 29 points against Minnesota, Walton tallied 22 points to go with 7 assists and 6 rebounds as Michigan defeated the 2 seed Badgers 71-56. The Detroit native was clutch throughout the tournament, connecting on 22-23 from the free throw line. Fellow senior guard Zak Irvin hit 6-9 shots en route to 15 points along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists and junior forward D.J. Wilson added 17 points (8-11 FG) and 6 rebounds. Michigan shot 56% from the floor and connected on 10-23 from 3-point range. Wisconsin shot just 39% and turned the ball over 15 times, a high figure for the normally sound Badgers. Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes posted double-doubles of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Congratulations to Coach John Beilein and Michigan on their accomplishment. I ended up tuning in for the majority of their final three games and came away impressed. Walton has some magic to him and was money in crunch time. I’m anxious to see if Michigan can ride this momentum into the NCAA Tournament. If they do they’ll need the same type of performances from Walton, Irvin, and Wilson.