As if the Big Ten Tournament isn’t hard enough, the Michigan Wolverines found an even more difficult opponent… Mother Nature. Heavy winds caused the Michigan plane to wreck on the tarmac. Thankfully no one was hurt but it created some travel problems for the Wolverines.
They would have to board a different plane this morning and fly into Washington on game day. The plane landed safely at 8:45 am. All of the Wolverines gear was left on the plane as it is part of the investigation. Luckily for them they had their practice gear.
Instead of a noon tip, the game got underway around 12:28. No matter what time the game started it was obvious that Michigan wasn’t impacted. Derrick Walton Jr. scored 19 points and dished out 5 assists in the 75-55 Wolverine victory.
It didn’t seem to bother the Wolverines in the first half. They quickly jumped out to a 15-4 lead. They continued to build on the lead eventually pushing it up to 20 at 31-11. That’s when the Illinois seemed to wake up.
Over a 2:23 stretch Tracy Abrams went on his own 10-0 run enabling the Illini to cut the lead to 10. Illinois got as close as 7 before the Wolverines closed the half on a 7-3 run for 40-29 lead.
The second half started with an Abrams 3 but, once again, Michigan responded. Walton Jr. hit a 3 off a second shot. Then Michael Finke gets a layup for the Illini and Irvin responds with a layup. For every push Illinois had, Michigan had an answer. With 13:20 left in the half, the Wolverines had pushed the lead back to 18. A 13-4 Illini run trimmed the lead to 11.
With 4:17 left, Illinois got cut the Michigan lead to 10 (62-52) but never got any closer. Walton Jr. scored 5 points and DJ Wilson’s missed dunk that still went in was part of a 7-2 run that pushed the score to 70-55.
Up next for the Wolverines is regular season champs, Purdue. Michigan defeated Purdue 82-70 on February 25th. After the game, Coach John Beilein said “Through less coaching, we’ve actually gotten to be a better team, so now we just have to get ready for Purdue.”
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook