Michigan Still Has Another Championship to Win

Posted on Posted in Michigan Basketball

The Michigan Wolverines had an outright Big Ten Title on the line in Champagne, Illinois against the Fighting Illini.  Fortunately, the only team “fighting” was the Wolverines.  Granted, Illinois didn’t have much to play for.  They were 17-12, 6-10 in the conference going into that game; they were not recognized by experts as a team who could squeeze their way in the NCAA Tournament as a bubble team.  The Wolverinesdid have something to play for, however.  

After the win against Minnesota on Saturday, Michigan clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Title, just ahead of Michigan State and Wisconsin.  With two games to go, the Wolverines needed to win at least one to prevent those teams from sharing the title.  Back in 2012, Michigan shared a championship with the Spartans and Ohio State.  Based off last night, it didn’t seem the Wolverines were too keen on sharing another title, by any stretch of the imagination.  The Wolverines, to put it lightly, “slaughtered” the Illini from the beginning to the end, 84-53.  Whether Illinois’s effort wasn’t really there or Michigan was just unstoppable at shooting the basketball (probably both) it didn’t matter.  The Wolverines were going to be the 2014 Big Ten Champions, before the game even started.

As I watched the game yesterday, and I’m sure most fans would agree.  That was, by far, the best game Michigan has played all year.  I know, they’re 22-7, that’s pretty darn good.  But overall, the shooting was lights out, and the defense was exceptional.  Michigan would hoist three after three after three.  Michigan shot close to 70 percent from three.  Nik Stauskas was seven of nine from three, with 24 points, Caris Levert was two of three, with 13 points, even Glenn Robinson Jr., who has had recent struggles from the outside, shot two from beyond the arch and made both.  Derrick Walton only shot one three point shot, he made it. Go figure.  He finished up with nine points.  

Michigan, to say the least, was on fire.  As we all know, Michigan’s game revolves around the three point shot.  It’s pretty simple, really.  They live by the three, they die by the three.  If Michigan makes their threes, they will win.  If they don’t, they’ll lose.  However, if the Wolverines shoot anything close to the way they did against Illinois, they’re going to, once again, be a team to look out for in the NCAA Tournament, because shooting like that can’t be beaten.  Michigan has all but locked up the Big Ten Championship, as well as a likely three or four seed in the big dance, but they still have some unfinished business against Indiana on Saturday, and of course, the Big Ten Tournament.  Those are important games, but in essence, they’re meaningless, this year, anyway.

Michigan, regardless of the outcome against the Hoosiers, will be cutting down the nets at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor.  After the final regular season game, the Big Ten tournament begins shortly after.  The Big Ten tournament is something that, if Michigan loses right away, fans, especially the team should not be worried about.  The Wolverines have proved that they’re the best team in the Big Ten, and have the ability to beat anyone.  They’ve won the Big Ten Championship outright. What else do they have to prove against the Big Ten?  Obviously, it’s not a game where you necessarily want to lose, but it’s just not as important as the games coming up.  I also think, in those conference tournaments, it takes a lot out of a team.  

Going into selection Sunday, we should have a well-rested team, preparing for whoever we go up against in the first round.  It’s time for Michigan to cherish this moment, soak it in.  Michigan has not one an outright Big Ten Title since 1986.  It’s a special moment, it’s something that will be remembered forever, but now, Michigan has bigger fish to fry, and that happens to be in the bracket of 68.  The Wolverines have one championship down, one more to go.  
Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.