Indiana Rallies Late, Wins At Michigan To Take Big Ten Title
Let's get the big-picture talking points out of the way, so we can discuss the juicy stuff:
1) Indiana rallied in the final minute from a five-point deficit to beat Michigan, 72-71, in Ann Arbor and claimed the solo Big Ten championship.
2) Indiana took a massive step toward landing the 1-seed in the Midwest (Indianapolis) regional, which would be a huge advantage for the Hoosiers.
3) Michigan gacked the game away by missing multiple free throws down the stretch (including two front-ends of one-and-ones), and its inability to rebound was a huge factor, as well.
OK, we good? Good.
Now for the major in-game talking point.
With 0:52 left and Indiana down by four, Christian Watford fouled Michigan's Glenn Robinson III from behind on a breakaway. Watford chopped down on Robinson's shooting arm with his right hand, ostensibly making a play on the ball (even though he wasn't all that close to the ball). Watford's left arm shoved Robinson in the middle of the back.
Per the NCAA basketball rule book, this should have been called a Flagrant 1 foul, which would have given Michigan two foul shots and possession. See Rule 4, Section 29, Article 2c (Here's a link to the rulebook):
"A flagrant 1 personal foul shall be a personal foul that is deemed excessive in nature and/or unnecessary, but not based solely on the severity of the act. Examples include, but are not limited to ...
3. Pushing or holding a player from behind to prevent a score
Now look, the Wolverines clearly could have (and should have) won the game anyway, as Robinson missed one of the two free throws and Michigan clanked the front ends of two one-and-ones after that to aid Indiana's comeback. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a poor (non)call by the refs, or had no impact at all on the outcome since Michigan "should have won anyway" but "choked." That extra possession they didn't get had huge value at that point and obviously would have changed the way the rest of the game played out. Now maybe Michigan simply would have missed even more free throws, or thrown the ball away or whatever, but to say the play didn't matter is ridiculous.
So, Indiana was fortunate in the final minute, but you also have to be in position to be fortunate and make plays to cash that good fortune in. The Hoosiers did as Cody Zeller came through repeatedly down the stretch before they watched a Michigan putback roll tantalizingly around and off the rim in the final seconds. Thus, IU is the Big Ten champion. A solo championship in that league this season is a tremendous accomplishment. Today's game was the latest evidence of the margin for error when the best teams squared off. In another week, today's win could be an even bigger development. Hello, Indianapolis? And hello, Atlanta?