Michigan coach John Beilein isn’t big on celebrations. He’d probably much rather have a marker so he can draw up plays.
But even Beilein let his guard down long enough to celebrate Michigan’s outright Big Ten championship after Saturday’s 84-80 victory over Indiana in front of a sellout crowd at Crisler Center in the regular-season finale. The victory was the fifth straight for the Wolverines and solidified Beilein’s credentials for Big Ten coach of the year.
Michigan (23-7, 15-3 Big Ten) capped the night with a ceremony featuring maize and blue confetti and the traditional cutting down of the nets.
“We did celebrate out there and we did celebrate what we’ve been waiting since Tuesday to celebrate. Our kids are ecstatic with the way this season has ended,” Beilein said. “I had no idea all that was going on and it was great for the fans to stick around and see a tribute to a really special team.”
Senior Jordan Morgan celebrated his final game at Crisler with his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nik Stauskas finished off his resume for Big Ten player of the year with 21 points, in what could be his final home game, if he opts to enter the NBA draft after this season.
Michigan is the top seed in the Big Ten tournament for the first time — and with a first-round bye, won’t play until Friday at noon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Wolverines will await the winner of Thursday’s Illinois-Indiana game.
Michigan split against Indiana (17-14, 7-11) this season — with Saturday’s win and a 63-52 loss at Bloomington. Michigan beat Illinois (18-13, 7-11), 84-53, on Tuesday in their only meeting this season.
The Wolverines could have a favorable road to a potential final, with a combined 7-1 record against the five teams in their half of the bracket. Besides Illinois and Indiana, they’re 5-0 against Nebraska (No. 4 seed), Ohio State (No. 5) and Purdue (No. 12).
Besides winning the championship in the inaugural Big Ten Tournament in 1998, Michigan hasn’t had a lot of success. Michigan has losing records vs. Indiana (0-1) and Illinois (1-2) in the tournament. If the Hoosiers win the opening round, they could have a significant fan following in Indianapolis, which is about 40 minutes from Bloomington.
MSU get No. 3 seed
Before Sunday’s four games in the Big Ten, most of the seeds for the Big Ten tournament were yet to be determined because of tiebreakers. The only certainties were that Michigan was the top seed and Penn State was 10th.
The picture got clearer as the day progressed, but the news wasn’t so good for Michigan State, which had a chance for the second seed if it got a victory at Ohio State and Wisconsin lost at Nebraska.
But the Spartans fell, 69-67, in Columbus and will be the No. 3 seed. They have a first-round bye and will play Friday against the winner of No. 6 Iowa and No. 11 Northwestern.
Michigan State (23-8, 12-6) swept both games against Iowa (71-69 in overtime in Iowa City and 86-76 at home) and Northwestern (54-40 in Evanston and 85-70 at home) this season.
With three losses in the last four games, the Spartans enter the Big Ten tournament on a swoon, not able to build on the momentum of the win over the No. 24 Hawkeyes on Thursday.
Michigan State will need a couple of wins this week to boost its postseason resume and stay in line for a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Cornhuskers on a roll
Before the season, Nebraska was projected to finish last in the Big Ten.
The experts were a little off with that prediction.
With a 77-68 victory over Wisconsin on Sunday night, the Huskers clinched the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.
Nebraska (19-11, 11-7) likely earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. The program has just six NCAA appearances in school history — none since joining the Big Ten — and finishing fourth in the conference likely will have coach Tim Miles in the running for Big Ten coach of the year.
And Mike Peltz capped the evening by proposing to his girlfriend in his speech during Senior Night activities.
She said yes.