For much of Wednesday night’s game, it looked as if No. 16 Michigan would leave West Lafayette with an embarrassing loss.
Instead, the Wolverines will head home with a memorable game-winner.
After being down by as many as 19 points in the first half, Michigan roared back to force overtime and defeat Purdue 77-76 on a Glenn Robinson III buzzer-beater bank shot. The Wolverines found themselves down 76-75 with 2.9 seconds left in the first overtime. After John Beilein called a timeout to set up a last-second play, Caris LeVert found Robinson in the far corner. After making a leaping catch, Robinson hit a contested bank shot to silence the raucous Boilermaker crowd and give Michigan a huge road win, as they continue their quest for a Big Ten championship.
Michigan (20-7, 12-3) fell behind early as Purdue opened the game on a 27-8 run. The Wolverines were able to cut the deficit to 13 at halftime and only managed to tie the game with 53 seconds left in the second half. Nevertheless, a win is a win for the Big Ten’s first place team, and they have Robinson to thank.
Getting win No. 20 wasn’t an easy task for the Wolverines. After defeating rival Michigan State on Sunday afternoon, Michigan seemed to have a cakewalk to the Big Ten regular season championship. If Wednesday night’s contest was any indication, it will be tougher than it looks.
Purdue (15-13, 5-10) came into the game as one of the coldest teams in the Big Ten, losing 4-of-5. But the Boilermakers gave the Wolverines all they could handle and that is what Beilein and his squad should expect from here on out.
Michigan will head home to face perennial bubble team Minnesota at Crisler Arena on Saturday. Besides the fact that the Minnesota game is important to winning the Big Ten title, it also marks the beginning of March. The Wolverines struggled toward the end of last season, as they were upset by Penn State, lost a chance at a share of the Big Ten championship after falling to Indiana, and were knocked out by Wisconsin early in the conference tournament. But a magical run to the national championship game put the late-season doubts to rest.
This season, Michigan has a chance to end the regular season on a high note and win the Big Ten championship outright for the first time since 1986.