While there is no way to know for sure if Michigan did or didn’t need a win over Indiana, but the Wolverines gave themselves a lot more to feel confident about heading in to Selection Sunday with the 72-69 win. Much criticized sophomore Kameron Chatman turned out to be the hero for the Wolverines with the last-second triple.
Immediately following the game John Beilein said he couldn't be prouder of his former five-star recruit who has endured some tough times so far.
"And the last things is being so proud of Kam Chatman here, who spent the first two years, a lot of time sitting down in the bench with us," said Beilein. "But he's, yes sir, no sir, working hard every single day, trying to grow his game. And for him to be rewarded with that big shot, with that moment that he will always be remembered for."
While the ending was great, it wasn't easy getting to that point for Beilein and his team.
Like the previous day the Wolverines started off strong jumping out to an 8-2 lead before the Hoosiers would seem to find their sea legs. From that point on the Wolverines and Hoosiers would make mini runs at each other with the lead going back and forth.
Ultimately despite a massive rebounding disadvantage the Wolverines went into the break trailing Indiana by with the scoreboard showing 37-36 in favor of the Hoosiers.
The second half would prove to be one of the most exciting halves of basketball of the year for the Wolverines and the one that might just get them back to the NCAA Tournament after a one year absence.
Indiana seemed to be riding the momentum of their partisan Indianapolis crowd with 15:45 to go in the game when former Wolverine Max Bielfeldt drained a deep three to give the Hoosiers a 49-44 lead, but Zak Irvin had other plans.
Irvin would answer with a big three of his own, and that kick started a big 9-0 run in which Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored four points and Irvin assisted on a Mo Wagner bucket to make the score 53-49 Wolverines.
Indiana wouldn’t go away and after an O.G. Anunoby steal and dunk at the 4:41 mark the game was tied at 61. Then Indiana took control and seemingly was in position to win when Yogi Ferrell converted a layup to give the Hoosiers a four point lead with 1:34 left on the clock.
That is when cold shooters and someone who hadn’t scored all game took control. Duncan Robinson converted an and one to cut the lead to one, and after another Ferrell bucket Derrick Walton scored his first points of the game converting a pair of free throws.
With Michigan trailing by three following a Ferrell free throw it was Robinson, who hadn’t made a three all game, who stepped up. Robinson hit a corner three to tie the game up with 49 seconds left.
Irvin threw the pass to Robinson for the bucket. Robinson, who had been 0-5 from three, still had the confidence of his teammates, specifically Irvin.
"I was trying to penetrate, and I saw that they helped in on me," said Irvin of the play. "And I saw Duncan open in the corner of my eye, and I gave it to him, and he knocked it down. I was proud of him. He was 0-for-5 before that and three at the rim. And for him to knock that down, that was huge."
From there Indiana turned the ball over giving Michigan one final shot. In a possession that got started late, Walton drove and dished to an open Kameron Chatman. Chatman who hesitated when open, launched a contested three and it was all net to give the Wolverines the 72-69 victory.
Known as a coach who likes to draw up plays, when Beilein saw the set up he decided to let his guys play it out.
"When I saw the floor spaced and Derrick with the ball I didn't think we could get this after calling a timeout," said Beilein. "I just let Derrick make a play and Kam hit the shot."
For his part, Chatman said the shot felt good, " I told myself that I was going to be ready to shoot it. But I didn't think Derrick was going to pass it to me, and he ended up passing it to me. And I hesitated a little bit, but then seeing how much time was on the clock, and then I just let it go. It felt good when it left my hands, so it was pretty good."
This is the biggest victory of the season for Michigan, and it could be the win they needed to secure an NCAA birth.