Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

MI topples Wisconsin, 83-72, despite late-game scare

MI topples Wisconsin, 83-72, despite late-game scare

The Boilermakers were ranked 3rd in last Monday's Associated Press Top 25 and are now projected to be the #1 seed in the West Region according to the NCAA Selection Committee's bracket preview, which was released prior to CBS' coverage of the Wisconsin-Michigan game on Sunday. They opened the game on a 15-2 run and shot 57.1% from three in the first half. Leon Bristedt scored on Minnesota's first shot of the night just 1:07 into the game followed by a goal from Brent Gates 9:48 and a power-play tally from Tyler Nanne at 15:38.

No. 20 MI (19-7, 8-5 Big Ten) enters Sunday's road game against Wisconsin (11-15, 4-9) as a projected No. 8 seed in the latest Bracketology by Jerry Palm, but its résumé - particularly on the road in league play - is pretty lacking on the whole.

MI attacked the basket and drained three 3-pointers, including back-to-back deep balls by Poole and Wagner that capped an 8-0 spurt and gave the Wolverines a 13-point cushion.

Michigan: The Wolverines reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth time in Beilein's 11 seasons as coach. Over the last few weeks, MI has struggled to consistently score from behind the arc.

Wisconsin (11-16, 4-10) managed to make a run in the second half, scoring 12 consecutive points to cut Michigan's lead from 23 down to 11 at 58-47 with 8:55 remaining.

But more than that, Moe Wagner dominated.

MI went 13 of 17 from the field, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range, over the first 6:32 to build a 35-15 lead.

Happ, Wisconsin's leading rebounder who ranks fourth in the Big Ten, had none in the first half.

Wagner scored an efficient 20 points and pulled in 11 rebounds. The rest of Michigan's squad was able to limit the damage from the rest of Happ's teammates. Duncan Robinson scored 16, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 15 and Charles Matthews added 11. This well balanced attack is what MI needs as their postseason play begins in a little over two weeks from now.

But a prototypical fundamentally sound MI team kept its composure and Wisconsin ran out of time. We've been in this building before and we got up, then they made a run and we did not execute down the stretch and melted a little bit. They were without one of their starters in a game they absolutely had to win.

The Badgers and Wolverines would trade baskets for much of the early part of the second half before the 12-0 push by UW cut UM's lead to 11 with 8:49 to play and woke up what had been, at times, a sleepy Kohl Center crowd.

MI adjusted by going to the hoop. Essentially, it was a must-win game, simply because the Wolverines couldn't afford such a bad loss.

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