The Boilermakers were ranked 3 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. So, coming off of a road loss at Northwestern and having only three true road wins this season, MI was going to need to play good basketball, despite the Badgers' struggles this season. That means one more win will get UM to 20, which is always a good number to hit.
Prediction: Regardless of Wisconsin's recent dominance over MI, I think the Badgers will struggle to defend homecourt here against MI.
Moritz Wagner recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 20 MI (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten), which shot a blistering 65.4 percent (17-for-26) in a dominant first half and 56 percent (28-for-50) for the game. Duncan Robinson scored 16 points for the Wolverines, who won for the time on the road since upsetting Michigan State on January 13.
It was just coach John Beilein's second win in Madison in his 11-year tenure. Over the last few weeks, MI has struggled to consistently score from behind the arc.
Wagner was 8-of-14 from the field and also connected on three 3-pointers.
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AB de Villiers (26) hit Yuzvendra Chahal (1-68) for back to back sixes but fell to Hardik Pandya (1-37) in the following over. That day Rohit Sharma had struggled against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, scoring just 18 off 43 balls.
Eight players scored in the first half for MI, led by Robinson's 14 points. Wagner had the unenviable task of trying to guard Wisconsin's best player: Ethan Happ. 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.
Sheehy gave the Gophers their first lead 39 seconds into the third period, but Matt Ustaski tied the score for Wisconsin just over a minute later. Leon Bristedt scored on Minnesota's first shot of the night just 1:07 into the game followed by a goal from Brent Gates Jr.at 9:48 and a power-play tally from Tyler Nanne at 15:38.
With home games left against Iowa and Ohio State, as well as road games with Maryland and Penn State, Michigan has a few more chances to impress the selection committee. But it was truly Michigan's game from the start, and it took care of business exactly as it needed to to keep its NCAA Tournament aspirations alive. MI would make 18 of their 24 attempts today, including a 7-8 performance from Abdur-Rahkman to help ice away the game. "They really did good (and) you could see it more".
Sitting in fifth place in the Big Ten standings at the moment, it would be great if the Wolverines could move up to fourth and receive the double bye. Essentially, it was a must-win game, simply because the Wolverines couldn't afford such a bad loss. So even against a less-than-vintage Wisconsin team, a win on Sunday would do the Wolverines wonders as it builds its postseason dossier. And that may not be enough seeing as Nebraska's schedule is much easier. When it comes to RPI rankings, only IL and Rutgers have ranked lower among Michigan's Big Ten wins.