Can Michigan play at home every night?
The Wolverines have been on a tear at the Crisler Center recently at capped the home-stand off with a huge win over No. 14 Purdue on senior day Saturday.
Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Mark Donnal, Andrew Dakich and Sean Lonnergan were all sent off with roses in their hands and a W on the scoreboard.
U-M arguably played its best half of the season against the Boilermakers to take a 45-30 half-time lead and it was enough to blow past Purdue 82-70.
Michigan improves to 19-10 on the season and 9-7 in Big Ten play. The win should no doubt be enough to lock up a spot in the NCAA Tournament — barring a monumental collapse the rest of the season, which is not going to happen.
World of Wagner
When Moritz Wagner plays well, so does the rest of the team.
The Wolverines of course shot lights out in the first half behind the play of the German native. Wagner had 22 points before the break on 9 of 13 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
The big man was absolutely astounding and dominated the (favorite for) Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan. Wagner’s defense and hustle were too much for Swanigan, who had only nine points and picked up two fouls in the first half.
Walton, Duncan Robinson and Xavier Simpson were also fantastic and Michigan shot 19 of 29 from the field and 7 of 13 on 3-pointers in the first half. Robinson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer put the bow on the improbable first 20 minutes.
U-M pushed its lead all the way to 22 points in the second half, but started eating clock too soon. Purdue quickly cut into the lead behind a couple and-1s from Swanigan and the play of freshman Vince Edwards.
Just when you thought the game was out of reach and Michigan had another signature win locked up, the Boilermakers were within six. Walton however wasn’t about to have his last game end like that. The senior from Harper Woods pump faked his defender and hit the leaning 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to put Michigan back up by nine and seal the deal.
Walton finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Robinson and Simpson added 18 points off the bench on a combined 6 of 7 shooting. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman shot 3 of 4 from the field to finish with 10 points.
The Wolverines shot 54 percent from the floor as a team and 42 percent from the 3-point line. U-M also went 11 of 11 from the free throw line—a huge positive considering its recent woes from the charity strike.
Purdue came in as the top team in the conference and Michigan nearly ran them out the building. The Wolverines have now won seven of their last ten games and are tied for sixth place.
The shooting has obviously been extremely impressive lately, but the defensive turnaround this season has been even more crucial for this team. U-M was last in the conference in defensive efficiency a month ago and now is third in points per game allowed (65.9) Surprisingly, Michigan is also third in rebounding defense in the Big Ten at 31.8 per game.
The effort and development from coach Beilein has been extremely evident over the course of this season and he deserves a ton of credit.
Michigan has regular season games remaining at Northwestern and Nebraska. I firmly believe the Wolverines will win both and at least win one game in the conference tournament to earn a decent seed in the big dance.
Michigan heads to Northwestern on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. on Big Ten Network. The Wildcats have lost 5 of their last seven games.