Ann Arbor — Michigan will have no major injury concerns when it opens NCAA Tournament play next week.
According to Michigan coach John Beilein, freshman forward Isaiah Livers is good to go after tweaking his left ankle early in the second half of last weekend’s win over Purdue in the Big Ten tournament championship game.
It was the same ankle Livers injured early in the first half at Northwestern on Feb. 6, which also marks the last time Michigan has lost.
“He’s good. He’s really good,” Beilein said on Friday. “He was able to come back because it was the same ankle. Usually, there’s this initial pain but because he’s done so much therapy on it — we held him out the first day back a little bit. He was a full-go yesterday.”
Livers, who wasn’t visibly wearing an ankle brace, showed no ill effects and was a full participant in Friday’s practice, which ended with an hour-long intrasquad scrimmage at Crisler Center. He was able to run, cut and soar for dunks without any hindrance throughout the two-hour session.
After beating the Boilermakers for back-to-back tournament titles, Livers said the injury occurred when he stepped and pushed off Purdue forward Vince Edwards' foot while he was cutting to the ball.
Livers had to be helped off the court and limped back to the locker room briefly for further examination before he returned to the bench. He never returned to the game, but was running and jumping on the sidelines during timeouts in case he needed to check back in.
Livers noted the initial pain was worse than what he experienced at Northwestern and was confident he’d be able to fully recover with the extended layoff — one of at least 10 days. He missed only one game with the ankle injury last month before he returned to the starting lineup against Iowa on Feb. 14.
With Selection Sunday fast approaching, Beilein said assistant coach Luke Yaklich has started the process of whittling down and beginning to study potential first-round opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
“I don't want to play any of them that are in that (No. 11-14 seed) area. I don't want to play any of them,” Beilein said. “I know how good the Vermonts and the Bucknells and all these people are. I don't want to play any of them, but we're going to have to play somebody.”
Fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson said he hasn’t paid much attention to bracket projections to see where Michigan will be going or who it will possibly be facing in the first weekend.
“I glance at it, but I don't put too much time and effort into it,” he said. “For the most part, it's basically people reaching out to me saying where they speculate we'll be, but at this point, it's all speculation.”
Robinson added it would be “awesome” to open at Little Caesars Arena so Michigan fans wouldn’t have to travel far to pack the stands.
Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said it’s been hard to avoid all the bracketology chatter on social media over the past few days. However, he’s been more intrigued about the destinations, which include Boise, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Wichita.
“I look at it a little bit but not to see who we're playing, just to see where we would possibly go to play,” he said. “Been hoping to go somewhere warm. San Diego or Dallas, something like that.”