Thursday, February 26, 2009

Michigan 87 #16 Purdue 78: Quick Thoughts

Bill Raftery of ESPN said at the end of the broadcast tonight that 9 teams out of the Big Ten would make the NCAA Tournament... yes, not 7, not 8, but 9.  Remember there are only 11 teams in the league. I guess Raftery thinks Michigan and Northwestern will get in. Who knows? Anyway, Michigan made its case tonight to be the 8th team from the Big Ten into the tournament. The Wolverines were in a must-win situation and delivered, adding a third signature win to their resume (UCLA, Duke & Purdue).  Frankly, both teams slept walk through the first half and Michigan should have had a larger lead, especially with JaJuan Johnson on the bench with three fouls.  The Wolverines came out much more inspired in the 2nd half.  In an earlier post, Matt made an excellent point about how Manny Harris has been quiet in big games this year.  Tonight, Manny responded to his benching scoring 27 points.  Similar to the Duke game, DeShawn Sims was the best player on the floor, as he had a career-high 29 points. Michigan is not going to lose many games that Manny and DeShawn score 56 combined. Sure, the game had its moments where you will scratch your head (all the missed free throws, Kelvin Grady and Zach Gibson's turnovers), but when the Wolverines shoot close to 80% from the field in the 2nd half, you can't complain too much. Overall, while I give credit to Michigan for the victory, Purdue missed a golden opportunity to overtake Michigan State for the Big Ten regular season championship.  Outside of Robbie Hummel, the Boilers were asleep at the wheel tonight.

Michigan has been a prototypical bubble team all season long, exemplified in their last two games, losing to Iowa and defeating Purdue. Now, only 2 games remain before the Big Ten Tournament for Michigan, at Wisconsin and at Minnesota. Find a way to steal one and defeat Northwestern for a third time this year in Indianapolis and you're in.  Could the Committee really leave out a team that plays in the #2 conference (RPI) with 20 overall wins (3 over top 15 teams & 5 wins over top 50 RPI teams) and a .500 record in the league? Don't think so.  Still, I'd like to have the final minute of the Iowa game to play again.

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