Michigan mounts epic comeback to defeat Illini 60-55

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The Wolverines gave their fans a lot to be excited about today at the Big Ten tournament.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

The Wolverines gave their fans a lot to be excited about today at the Big Ten tournament. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

 

The Michigan Wolverines didn’t come out with the same fire and passion that they had against Michigan State last weekend and it showed for long stretches of the game.  However, sloppy play by the Illini, and a spurt of renewed Michigan passion allowed the Wolverines to win their Big Ten Tournament game 60 to 55 against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Michigan’s lack of fire especially showed in the paint where Mike Tisdale essentially had his way with the Wolverine big men. Tisdale constantly was getting good looks in the paint and was the Illini’s most consistent offensive weapon for much of the game. Michigan is an undersized team, and should be expected to struggle against teams with any size, but their main problem was that they gave too many clear passing lanes into the paint to set up the Illini big men. However, when it mattered late in the game the Wolverines were able to put the clamps on the Illinois post players, including Tisdale, and pull out the victory.

Michigan showed some spurts of energy throughout the game, but had difficulty keeping that energy going until the game’s final minutes. The most important run came late in the second half when Illinois appeared to have the game in control, until some hot shooting by Michigan and some sloppy offensive play by the Illini allowed the Wolverines to tie the game with 3:17 left on the clock. That run culminated with a three pointer with less than 2 minutes remaining to put Michigan ahead by 3. That lead would prove to be permanent as the Wolverines then put the Illini away with some solid defense and clutch free throws.

Michigan will now face Ohio State on Saturday in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.