Armed with a share of its first Big Ten regular-season title in
26 years, Michigan has its sights set on another championship.
The No. 10 Wolverines begin their quest for a Big Ten tournament
title Friday night when they try for a third consecutive win over
Minnesota in a quarterfinal matchup in Indianapolis.
Michigan (23-8) won six of its final seven games and got help
from rival Ohio State on the last day of the regular season to tie
the seventh-ranked Buckeyes and No. 8 Michigan State atop the
league standings and claim its first conference championship since
1986. The second-seeded Wolverines already have wins over each of
the other co-champs and plenty of confidence heading into this
“We’ve got to be greedy,” senior swingman Zack Novak said.
“We’ve still got goals ahead of us.”
The Wolverines won the inaugural Big Ten tournament in 1998, but
that title was vacated because of NCAA sanctions. They are 8-13 in
the event since then and have not been back to the championship
game. However, this year’s team might have the make up to get back
“(Our players) play with poise, with confidence,” coach John
Beilein said. “They do the little things.
“We’re going to have to have a mentality of sticking to things,
and having a right mental approach because of everything that was
at stake during that time that you’re trying to be a
The Wolverines did those little things to rebound from a 75-61
home loss to Purdue on Feb. 25 by ending the regular season with
wins at Illinois and Penn State. Guard Trey Burke had 19 points as
Michigan shot a season road-best 59.5 percent – 10 of 18 from
3-point range – in a 71-65 victory over the Nittany Lions on
Burke, who averaged 14.6 points and 4.6 assists, shared
conference freshman of the year honors with Indiana’s Cody Zeller.
He scored 27 on 8-of-11 shooting in a 61-56 home win over Minnesota
on New Year’s Day in the teams’ only meeting this season.
The Wolverines have held the Golden Gophers to an average of
61.7 points while winning six of seven in the series. Michigan won
the teams’ last Big Ten tournament meeting, 49-40 in 2007.
Though the only way 10th-seeded Minnesota (19-13) can earn a
spot in the NCAA tournament field is to run the table in
Indianapolis, the Gophers likely ended Northwestern’s NCAA hopes
with a 75-68 overtime victory Thursday. Freshman Andre Hollins
scored a season-high 25 points as Minnesota outscored the Wildcats
14-7 in the extra period.
“We’ve been working hard,” Hollins said of the Gophers, who
dropped a season-high six straight before closing the regular
season with an 81-69 win over Nebraska on Saturday.
Minnesota has never won the conference tournament, but reached
the finals as the sixth seed in 2010.
“We just want to continue to play, play our hearts out,” Hollins
said. “It’s just the steps we have to take in order to get to that
point, and we just have to take care of Michigan next in order to
keep moving on.”
Hollins has averaged 18.3 points in the last three games but was
held scoreless in 14 minutes against Michigan this season.
The Gophers could be without starting center Ralph Sampson III
for a second straight game because of a knee injury.