Michigan pulled out a massive win Sunday over Michigan State, 58-57. So much of the credit has to go to Trey Burke, Michigan’s Player of the Year candidate, who carried the Wolverines all game and then made the big plays at the end.
The win for Michigan could symbolize a new start of sorts. After a horrendous month of February, where Michigan lost four of seven, March has started much better for Michigan, with them beating their rival Spartans.
Michigan did this in a strange fashion. Once again they struggled in rebounding, losing the battle 41-28, and 17-9 on the offensive boards. This has been the story for Michigan recently. However, they overcame the lack of rebounding with improved defense. A lot of this came from the intensity that Caris LeVert brought in his 30 minutes, following Nik Stauskas missing most of the game after getting a big cut near his eye. LeVert showed how much potential he has, using his athleticism to play strong perimeter defense and added eight points on offense.
The offense was strange. Michigan made zero three-pointers, going 0-12. Yet, somehow they managed to win the game. It is crazy to think that a John Beilein team, which are usually predicated on creating and making three-pointers, could beat a top 10 team without making a single one.
Burke can be thanked for the two-pointer based offensive production, scoring 21 points, with a number of impressive lay-ups and adding eight assists. At the end of the game, Burke put the team on his back, making the game-winning dunk after picking Kieth Appling’s pocket at half-court with less than 30 seconds remaining. Then with Michigan up a point with a few seconds left, Burke once again made a steal and held the ball as time expired. That is what star players have to do, go above and beyond in the big moments.
Michigan got the win and ended the week on a high note after such a sour start with the loss to Penn State. They are now in a four-team tie for second in the Big Ten, with Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, with just two games remaining. Michigan takes on Purdue on the road–where they have not won a game since Jan. 27-- before ending their regular season by hosting Indiana. They still have a shot at winning a share of the Big Ten title. If Indiana loses to Ohio State on Tuesday and Michigan wins out, they will split the title.
But for now, Michigan can take a deep breath after a very impressive home win over their rival. After two crazy months of Big Ten basketball, just one week remains in the regular season. After what has been such a special season, expect nothing less than one last thrilling week in the Big Ten, before the focus turns to Chicago for the Big Ten tourney.