In what was a game of runs from the start, Northwestern had the last run to force overtime on an Alex Olah shot that dropped through with 0.1 second left on the clock. Michigan started overtime with a three from Duncan Robinson that shifted things back in Michigan's favor. Here are a few of the things that can be taken away from the noon game on Thursday:
What We Learned:
1. Michigan stays on the bubble
Michigan came into the Big Ten tournament on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, needing a few wins. I don't think this team could have survived a first game exit in the conference tournament and still hear their name on Selection Sunday. While their method of survival left a lot of fans holding their breath, they managed to get the job done and move.
They provided themselves with a chance for a huge win tomorrow against the regular season champion Indiana Hoosiers. This Michigan Wolverines team is a group that can shoot the ball from deep, and when they do that, they can beat a lot of teams.
2. Northwestern will continue their lack of an NCAA Tournament appearance
Of course, Northwestern would have had to win the conference tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the history of their basketball program. The Northwestern Wildcats started the season with a lot of hype around their program, with hopes of finally ending the drought. However, losing Alex Olah in December for a stretch hurt this team, and they just never could pick up the big quality wins that conference play could provide.
They're losing two big pieces in Alex Olah and Tre Demps off of this team, so you have to wonder if there was there best roster to provide an appearance in recent memory. If Chris Collins is going to make history, he'll have to build around guys like Bryant McIntosh, Sanjay Lumpkin and company.
3. John Beilein deserves a lot of credit
I don't think that people give John Beilein the amount of credit that he deserves. People are actually ripping him about this team being on the bubble. Do they forget that this teams best player has basically missed the entire conference season? You're not just going to make that up like it doesn't matter. When a player like Caris Levert goes down, that makes things harder for everyone.
Somebody who is used to being the number two option is suddenly the number one option, being guarded by a number one quality defender. Losing a guy like Caris Levert would put a lot of programs around the country in the "Okay, it's just not going to happen this year" mode. Not Michigan. Beilein has coached an average team to a bubble spot in the NCAA Tournament. Give him his credit.
Coming into this game, a lot of people would have probably picked Michigan. Maybe not to win it the way that they did, but they got the job done. Zak Irvin hit what would turn out to the game winner with 3.0 seconds left in the overtime, and Michigan lives to fight another day. If the Wolverines manage to muster up a Friday effort and beat the Indiana Hoosiers, than we could very well be looking at another NCAA Tournament appearance for the Michigan Wolverines.