Well, that one felt good.
With Hunter Dickinson out with a stomach bug, the shorthanded Michigan Wolverines went to a tough environment and earned a victory in a physical game, beating Ohio State, 75-69.
Michigan was in dire need of a big win and after beating a good Ohio State team on the road down its best player, it got a victory that should turn heads of the selection committee.
A win like this all but guarantees the Wolverines a spot. Hopefully they can use the momentum from this to win a few games in the Big Ten Tournament and stay out of the play-in spots.
Here are the takeaways from the win
A career game for DeVante’ Jones
Michigan needed someone to step so badly as a go-to scorer, and DeVante’ Jones put the team on his back for one of the best performances of his Michigan career.
Leading all Wolverines with 21 points, he used his signature quick first step to get to the rim while also 3-of-6 three-point attempts. He also did a tremendous job setting up teammates for easy buckets.
What at setup by Devante and a beautiful SLAM by Moussa pic.twitter.com/FZR7W44t7Q— Big Ten Champs Barstool Blue (@BarstoolUofM) March 6, 2022
Jones has probably been the player Michigan fans have been most frustrated with all year long, but boy, did he come to play when the Wolverines needed it. Let’s hope Jones keeps playing like this for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines proved they can survive without Hunter Dickinson
When hearing Dickinson was out with the stomach flu, I’m sure I wasn’t the only Michigan fan whose expectations for this game plummeted.
They clearly lacked his constant scoring and interior defense, but the Wolverines proved in this one they can compete with really good teams without their best player.
Consistent contributions from Jones and Eli Brooks are crucial in March, particularly in the second half of games. After the team started the half with a few sloppy possessions, Brooks started making shots to right the ship and Jones got fire from deep.
Jones stayed hot as the game went on, scoring big buckets for the Wolverines. And to secure the win, The Professor stayed calm and knocked down big free throws in a hostile environment.
Eli Brooks channeling his inner MAAR. We love a calm king.— Scott Bell (@sbell021) March 6, 2022
Those two need to keep playing well for Michigan to thrive this month. Their leadership and steady presence on both ends goes a long way this time of year.
Michigan put on its best defensive performance of the year
A big reason for Michigan’s roller coaster of a season has been its inconsistency on defense, as communication miscues and slight errors defending ball screens have plagued the Wolverines too often this year.
Ohio State was able to get a lot of easy shots in the first half, but Michigan tightened up in the final 20 minutes, capitalizing on momentum and converting in transition. They were able to force a lot of Ohio State turnovers at crucial times, racking up 11 steals and making life for the Buckeye offense far from easy.
Interim head coach Phil Martelli has been very complementary of the game plan of Saddi Washington, who has basically been Michigan’s defensive coordinator all year long. The Wolverines were able to execute an excellent game plan, doubling E.J. Liddell a lot and forcing Ohio State’s role players to step up.
The offensive bursts were nice to see in this one but the solid defense is even more encouraging.
T-Will was a thrill to watch
The absence of Dickinson only highlighted how vital it is for Michigan’s offense to have a go-to scorer. In a performance that probably surprised a few Michigan fans, Terrance Williams II stepped up big time for the Wolverines, scoring 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 11 points in that first half.
Williams came out firing as soon as he got off the bench, making four of his first six shots and three of his first four threes.
Another one!— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 6, 2022
Terrance Williams II hits his third 3 of the game for @umichbball pic.twitter.com/pMUyHiwcvL
The 8-0 run the Buckeyes went on to end the first half gave them a little distance in what was previously a back-and-forth game, but Williams’ hot hand helped keep Michigan within striking distance.
One of Michigan’s many flaws this season has been its lack of bench production. As of late, Williams has played like the guy we thought he could be off the bench this year, with his impact off the bench being crucial to Michigan, especially in that Michigan State win.
If Michigan wants to keep its NCAA Tournament dreams alive, it needs role players like Williams to continue to step up.
Where do we go from here?
With this one, most bracketologists project Michigan to now be firmly in the NCAA Tournament. While that rough stretch in January hurts, it has enough wins against Quad 1 teams to make up for it.
It wouldn’t hurt Michigan to win a few games in the Big Ten Tournament, not only to improve the tournament resume but also get momentum going into March Madness.
This was the most satisfying win of the season for the Wolverines. Hopefully they can build off this to find some postseason success.