Michigan Basketball: Wolverines Survive Scare in Big Ten Quarterfinals

By Greg Douglas
Rick Osentoski-USA Today Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA Today Sports

When Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. declared for the NBA Draft after last season, few would have imagined that the Michigan Wolverines would be where they are now.

Once again, the Wolverines are fighting for a Big Ten tournament championship and will be one of the favorites going into the NCAA tournament, but just how has this program rebounded so nicely since the departure of two superstars? Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Caris Levert have stepped into the vacancies left by Burke and Hardaway Jr. and lifted the Wolverines to championship contender status in a season that was thought to be a rebuilding year.

When Michigan found itself in a dogfight with the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Big Ten quarterfinal matchup, the Wolverines turned to the trio to pull the game out of the fire and that is exactly what they did. Stauskas, Levert and Robinson III combined for 47 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the 64-63 victory over the Fighting Illini. Jordan Morgan scored only four points the entire game, but two of those points came on a game-winning layup that gave Michigan the lead with 7.9 seconds left in the game.

Michigan has squeaked by in several games versus inferior competition this season and while the Wolverines are capable of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament, the team is just as likely to bust your bracket as the team is not that hard to expose. The Wolverines suffered a big loss this season when center Mitch McGary went down with an injury early in the season, and the loss of the team’s inside presence may be just too big of a void to fill.

The Wolverines’ lack of an inside game and depth will hurt the team in the tournament where both elements are crucial to a team’s success.

Greg Douglas is a College Basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.

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