Nolan Bianchi with three quick takeaways from Michigan's 76-49 victory over Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament semifinal Saturday in Chicago.
Livers leads charge
With the return of Charles Matthews to the lineup, Isaiah Livers was relegated to the bench in Michigan's tournament matchups with Iowa and Minnesota. It appears, for now, that a sixth-man role might be best suited for the sophomore forward, as he scored 13 against the Hawkeyes on Friday night and put up a career-high 21 against Minnesota on 8-for-10 shooting.
The greatest measure of whether Livers has truly arrived as a premier scorer in Michigan's lineup, however, will come Sunday in the Big Ten final against Michigan State. Livers has scored a total of 11 points in two matchups with the Spartans this season.
Running away with it
For awhile, it looked like Minnesota might challenge Michigan for a spot in Sunday's Big Ten tournament final. And then, the sharpshooting John Beilein teams of years gone by arrived.
The Wolverines went on a 25-6 run to close out the second half, with all components of its offense clicking. Zavier Simpson was scoring in and around the paint. Ignas Brazdeikis had his stroke from all over the floor. Jordan Poole banked in a 3-point shot. Jon Teske got an incredibly gracious roll on a shot from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Gophers completely disappeared on the other end of the floor. Minnesota failed to make a single 3-pointer, was 1-for-6 from the free-throw line and shot just 33 percent in the first half.
Much like Livers' shooting performance, another area of success that Michigan will look to carry over into Sunday's matchup with Michigan State is its defense. Michigan forced Minnesota into bad looks around the perimeter with frequency, and as a result, the Gophers shot just 17 percent from 3. In the quarterfinal round, Iowa was just 1-for-16 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Spartans have shot a combined 42 percent in tournament matchups with Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.