Michigan blew the barn doors off of Minnesota on Sunday to win its 10th-straight Big Ten Tournament game and play for its third-straight title in this event and Sunday’s opponent comes in the form of the rival Michigan State Spartans.
Before we get to MSU, head coach John Beilein and his players first wrapped up the blowout win over a team they have now swept in three games this season.
Here’s the opening statement from Beilein’s presser:
“So we really played great basketball in the first half. I think the big difference was, they were staying with us when we got offensive rebounds, and they really have been great at getting offensive rebounds. They’re one of the best in the country, and once we shut that down, we got enough stops that we could get out and run a little bit. We also could sort of frustrate them. So being up 19 at halftime really is uncomfortable. My son’s Division II team was up 19 today with about 18 minutes to go and it didn’t turn out good. So that was in my mind at halftime, and we ended up just fighting like crazy to come back and just play the same way we played in the first half -- and they won the first four minutes -- then it was 20, then it was 25, then it was 30, and proud of our guys. I think Minnesota has had a great year. One or two more players -- they’ve had injuries. One or two more players, as we found out when Charles was out, an injury or two changes -- it’s just such a butterfly effect on the team that your depth is a little bit different, people get tired, and I think that’s what happened to Minnesota today. Richard has done a great job with that team, and I’m certain they’re going to be an NCAA Tournament team, and proud to have them playing out in the NCAA Tournament and representing the Big Ten.”
And what he had to say about the rematch with MSU in the scrum with the media after:
John Beilein says another Michigan-MSU showdown is great for everybody pic.twitter.com/OJ5jjzyBVB— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) March 16, 2019
And now the players, first with Charles Matthews, who said it has been “fun” for Michigan to fire on all cylinders in this tournament.
Charles Matthews: “We’re trying to keep this momentum going. It’s fun.” pic.twitter.com/Mcv14BLmDo— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) March 16, 2019
Isaiah Livers, who scored a career-high 21 points, says the work the team has put in is deserving of a shot to play for a championship.
“It says something about our preparation all week. I think we deserve to be in he championship game. - Isaiah Livers pic.twitter.com/WIIPdGHlmk— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) March 16, 2019
Zavier Simpson (15 points, 9 assists on Saturday), hopes to see his team stay focused for Sunday’s rivalry showdown.
Zavier Simpson says Michigan has to “stay locked in” against MSU pic.twitter.com/WZUM2XNdWS— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) March 16, 2019
Michigan, winner of the last two Big Ten Tournaments, now goes up against a Spartans squad that last won this event in 2016. The last time these two played for the tournament title, No. 3 seed MSU beat No. 1 seed Michigan 69-55. This year, the seeds will be reversed.
Tomorrow’s game from United Center in Chicago between the Wolverines and Spartans tips off at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m CT and will be broadcast nationally via CBS.