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Michigan advances to second round of NIT with 90-80 victory over Toledo

Despite an early offensive onslaught by the Rockets, the Wolverines survive and advance to the second round.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Second Round - Michigan vs Rutgers Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It may not have been where the Michigan men’s basketball team had wanted to be in this stage of March, but on Tuesday evening the Wolverines made sure their time in the 2023 NIT wouldn’t be a one and done stay.

With a 90-80 victory over the Toledo Rockets, Michigan finished what may be their final home game of the year on a high note. Here’s how the game played out.

First Half

If you were a neutral viewer only watching for the basketball, the offensive explosion through the first chunk of the action probably drew you in. If you were watching as a Wolverines fan however... You probably watched through clenched teeth.

Michigan simply could not find an answer to the Rockets’ onslaught for the first 10 minutes of the half, with Toledo taking an 16-10 lead into the first media timeout and pushing it to as far as 27-18 with 11 minutes to go.

Faced with the Rockets running away with it before halftime, Hunter Dickinson and Kobe Bufkin dragged their team back into the contest with a combined 15 points between them after the 10-minute mark — pulling things back within a possession in the waning moments. Ultimately however, Toledo took back the lead on the final shot of the half, a three-pointer by starting forward JT Shumate.

Statistically, Dickinson finished as the half’s scoring leader with 10 points, while Bufkin finished as the half’s rebound leader with five boards.

Second Half

The Wolverines didn’t take long to jump to a lead in the second half, as three consecutive three-pointers pushed the margin to seven in Michigan’s favor to start out. Though the Rockets were consistent in their own shooting, the Wolverines kept them at bay for much of the early goings by matching Toledo shot-for-shot.

Things weren’t much better for the Rockets after the ten minute mark, as despite several attempts at clawing back into the game — even coming within a single possession with six minutes to go — Michigan controlled the pace of play and never looked as seriously challenged by Toledo as they had been in the first half. At the final buzzer, the Wolverines punched their ticket into the second round with a comfortable 10-point victory.

Statistically, Bufkin emerged as the points leader for Michigan after scoring 23 points. Dickinson meanwhile finished with a team-leading nine rebounds.

What’s next?

Despite what ESPN’s selection show may have claimed, the Wolverines are the three seed in this year’s NIT, and thus the location of their second round game depends on the result of Vanderbilt and Yale’s match-up later this evening. Should Vanderbilt win, Michigan will travel to Nashville later this week, while a Yale victory will see the Wolverines back on Crisler’s floor. Tip-off time and television channel are to be determined.