U-M coach John Beilein is more concerned about keeping his squad focused than he is settling scores with those teams that have beat the Wolverines this season. (John T. Greilick/Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — Michigan's road through the Big Ten tournament could be viewed as a road to redemption.
If the Wolverines reach the championship game, they are likely to face teams that have beaten them this season.
First up is Penn State, which upset Michigan last month. A victory would bring up Wisconsin, which won an overtime thriller in the only meeting. Then, Indiana (swept Michigan) would follow in the semifinals, followed by either Ohio State (split) or Michigan State (split).
"If you look at the lineup of what could be, there's a 75 percent chance we're going to play people, if we advance, that we have (lost to) this year," coach John Beilein said. "You want to go into it with a lot of excitement and courage to get that game back. But at the same time, there's a process you have to go through in those games to win."
But Beilein isn't looking ahead. Rather, he's steadying his team's focus on the Nittany Lions.
"Just watching Penn State, it's a whole different team than it was earlier," Beilein said. "Six of the last seven games, they have shown they can beat anyone. They had a bad game in Minnesota but other than that, they have played us twice very tough, they all but beat Wisconsin the other night, they went to Northwestern and won, and they had Illinois on the ropes as well."
After losing its first 14 Big Ten games, Penn State has won two of its final four.
For junior center Jordan Morgan, the rematch presents an opportunity to fix mistakes from the last meeting, which dealt a blow to the Wolverines title chances.
"We've got a matchup in the first round in a game we wish we could have had back," Morgan said. "It's not hard to get motivated to win this. We want to win championships, and we fell short (against Indiana), so this is our next opportunity."
Against Penn State, Michigan had 15 turnovers — one off its season high — and squandered a 15-point lead in the last 10 minutes.
Those stats, in addition to not being able to stop the penetration of guards D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall, who combined for half the 84 points, led to the Nittany Lions upset.
In Beilein's five trips to the Big Ten tournament, Michigan has won all five opening games, but has struggled after that.
"We've been very fortunate to always win the first round, whether we've had a bye or not," Beilein said.