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Michigan’s win streak snapped in 91-87 2OT loss to Illinois

The road to the Big Dance for the Wolverines has once again been thrown into peril after Thursday evening.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Well, guess it’s time to cancel the ring fitting.

In all seriousness, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that stealing a share of the Big Ten regular season championship was always a bit of a pipe dream. But there was zero question in regards to the NCAA Tournament hopes the Michigan Wolverines need a win before the end of the season.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t find it on Thursday evening, as an early lead gave way to a all-out dogfight from the Illinois Fighting Illini that ended in a 91-87 double overtime loss for the Wolverines.

Here’s how the game broke down for Michigan:

First half

In the opening moments of Thursday night’s contest, it was all Michigan as the Wolverines quickly broke out to a six-point lead and held it at that margin for more or less the first five minutes of play. After holding back several pushes by the Fighting Illini to take the lead, cracks started to appear in Michigan’s momentum as in the 11th minute of play they took a slim and ultimately short lived 21-20 lead.

Though the Wolverines cut that lead in just 20 seconds of game clock, it was all Illinois needed to make it a game as Michigan had a difficult time finding anything more than a one possession margin for the rest of the half. In the final two minutes of the half, the Fighting Illini once again found the momentum swing in their favor and defended it through the final buzzer, ultimately taking a 33-31 lead to the locker room

Statistically, Hunter Dickinson led the team in both scoring and rebounding at the half, with six points and six boards.

Second half and overtime

Though the Wolverines kept it competitive to start out the half — even taking a small lead in the opening three minutes — all hell broke loose for Michigan coming out of the first media timeout. In a four-minute barrage of offense, Illinois went on a 14-5 run that blew the doors off the State Farm Center both on the scoreboard and on the court, as three of the five four goals made came off poster dunks.

Just as the life seemed well and truly sucked out of the Wolverines bench, it was Kobe Bufkin who almost single-handedly revived his teammates. In a 12-2 hot streak that re-tied the game, Bufkin provided 10 points solely by himself off three jumpers and two free throws.

Though the Fighting Illini made subsequent hot streaks to seemingly push the lead beyond reach, Michigan never quit after Bufkin’s one-man heroics, and an impossible three by Jett Howard tied the game at 70 with 47 seconds left on the clock. Despite getting the final shot of the game after a missed Illinois layup, Dickinson was unable to find the winning two points in the paint, sending it to overtime.

Overtime periods

It looked like it was gonna be easy going for the Wolverines for much of the first overtime period, as Michigan led by as much as seven points with 1:50 left. It ultimately may have looked a little too easier however, as the Fighting Illini quickly brought things back equal, only to come one missed free throw short of the win.

Ultimately, the game slipped out of the Wolverines’ reach in the second overtime period, as a potentially game-tying free throw attempt by Dickinson gave Illinois a final possession that turned into a decisive two points and the victory. Statistically, Dickinson ended the game with both the most points and the most rebounds — scoring 31 and grabbing 15 boards.

What’s next?

The Wolverines conclude their regular season with a road trip to Assembly Hall against the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday, March 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.