While a three-game win streak is by no means something to stick one’s nose up at, it was clear the Michigan Wolverines’ hopes at the big dance needed a marquee win. On Saturday, the Wolverines got their chance at notching one against the 18th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers.
In a highly competitive game, Michigan let their mistakes get the best of them once again this season, falling to the Hoosiers 61-62 and putting their NCAA Tournament hopes virtually to rest.
Here’s how the game broke down for Michigan.
In a back-and-forth affair to start the game, it was Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard who gave the Wolverines a hot start, providing a pair of three pointers that pushed the early margin to four and raised the collective temperature in Crisler Center.
While a pair of early fouls sent Hunter Dickinson to the bench with almost 12 minutes of clock remaining, Michigan wasn’t deterred as the Wolverines’ defense prevented a single Hoosier field goal between Dickinson’s exit and re-entrance into the game, making it a double-digit lead as the big man hopped from the scorer’s table.
The game wasn’t yet out of reach for Indiana however, as a 6-for-8 shooting streak in the final five minutes pulled the game back where it had started — a four point margin. While Michigan had the opportunity of the final shot, Jett Howard wasn’t able to find the basket, sending both teams to the locker room at 37-33 in favor of the Wolverines.
Statistically, Bufkin led the half’s scoring efforts for the maize and blue with 12 points, while five different Wolverines tied for the team lead in rebounds with two boards a piece.
The Wolverines’ slump continued into the opening moments of the second half, giving the Hoosiers a prime opportunity to reset the score. Once Michigan finally refocused, however, the game quickly swung back in their favor — opening up a seven-point lead headed into the 12th minute.
Just as soon as the Wolverines had put the game squarely in their hands, Indiana cranked the pressure — making five of seven shots to bring the game back within a single possession. Like clockwork, just as Michigan seemed poised to go on a back-breaking late scoring run, the Hoosiers were able to slip through the cracks of the Wolverines’ defense.
With a slim three-point lead headed into the final four minutes, the Wolverines needed to stop Indiana’s surging offense. Instead, the Hoosiers offered up an alley-oop and a decisive pair of made free throws, pulling the lead back into their corner at a crucial moment.
With eight seconds left on the clock however, the Wolverines still stood just one basket away from the upset. Unfortunately, it proved to be one basket too many, as the Hoosiers escaped Crisler with a one-point victory.
Statistically, Hunter Dickinson finished as the team’s scoring and rebounds leader, with 16 point and seven boards respectively.
The Wolverines travel to Madison for a Valentine’s Day matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday, February 14th. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 pm Eastern and will be televised on ESPN2.