Michigan was not exactly stumbling heading into the Big Ten Tournament, but they also weren’t playing the basketball we thought they were capable of. Well, now that the madness of March is in full swing, they picked a pretty good time to pull out of one of their best performances of the season.
The Wolverines (27-5) won its quarterfinal matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes (22-11) by a score of 74-53 in a Big Ten Tournament blowout, setting up a semifinal matchup with Minnesota, who upset Purdue in the game prior to Michigan’s on Friday night.
Ignas Brazdeikis led the Wolverines with 15 points, while Isaiah Livers chipped in with 13 points off the bench. Jon Teske (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Zavier Simpson (10 points, 10 assists) had a pair of double-doubles in the win, as well.
Charles Matthews returned to the lineup for Michigan after missing the final three games of the regular season and took to the United Center court to a loud ovation, as the Chicago native returned home. He did not shoot it particularly well, with only five points on 1-for-9 shooting, but was getting good looks and did not appear limited by his ankle.
The pace to start the game was electric with both teams trading blows back and forth and running the floor. The Wolverines roared out to a 17-12 lead six minutes into the game, but went on another one of their patented scoring droughts that went over six minutes without a field goal. However, they would get back on track and head into the locker room with a 40-27 lead over the Hawkeyes, led by Isaiah Liver’s 9 first half points off the bench.
The whistles got a bit tighter in the second half, as they tend to do, but Michigan built on its lead and lead 52-35 at the under-16 timeout with 15:13 to go in the game. It would only get bigger by the time the under-12 timeout came at 11:51 left in the contest with the Wolverines leading 61-37.
Next up for the Wolverines is a rematch with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who they swept this season in the two games they played. The first was a 59-57 win at Crisler that took a buzzer-beater from Matthews to win, while the rematch in Minnesota was a 69-60 win for Michigan. The game is schedule for about a 3:30 p.m. ET start from United Center in Chicago.