U-M Gets ‘Payback' vs. IU, Ready For Run?

Michigan's piece of the Big Ten championship rolled off the rim at Crisler Center one year ago. Saturday, the Wolverines got a bit of revenge over the Hoosiers, is this group ready to make another postseason run?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Quickly pushing the ball up the left side of the court, Trey Burke avoided the contact and put up a lefty layup at Crisler Center one year ago.

The stage was similar including a sold out Crisler Center and celebration of a Big Ten conference championship waiting at the end of regulation.

The ball came off the rim.

Still not 100-percent after dealing with a badly sprained ankle for much of the second half of the season, center Jordan Morgan crashed the glass. Cupping the ball in his left hand Morgan threw it back at the basket, appearing to secure the put back and basket of his life.

The ball rolls off the rim, time runs out, and Indiana wins the 2013 Big Ten conference title outright, stealing a banner and a fantastic moment from the Michigan program.

Now 2014, the Wolverines once again hosted Indiana for their last conference game of the regular season. This time around Michigan didn’t have much of anything on the line, neither did Indiana, a team vastly different from one year ago.

The Wolverines had already sewn up a share of the Big Ten title and secured the outright tag with a convincing 31-point win at Illinois on Tuesday. But Michigan had incentive with Tom Crean and Indiana in town, knowing full well, even a year later, what had transpired on their home floor.

“This is payback against Indiana,” Michigan sophomore Glenn Robinson III said on the court after the 84-80 win. “They were kind of hanging out after they won last year so I know it’s been in the back of my mind and it feels great to be able to win, especially like this with all the fans around.”

Even Jordan Morgan, who was recognized and celebrated in the pregame for senior night, had his retribution scoring 15-points and grabbing 10 rebounds in his final game at home.

The Wolverines finished Big Ten play at 15-3, 23-7 overall, as they now head off to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tournament with one of their clear and defined goals out of the way.

The Wolverines await the winner of Illinois and Indiana, set to tip-off Friday.

Another postseason run?

At this time last year Michigan was still finding it’s way with massive lapses on the defensive end and an unhealthy Morgan manning the middle. It wasn’t until the insertion of then freshman center Mitch McGary when Michigan found their stride and galloped all the way to the national championship game.

But do the Wolverines have a similar NCAA tournament run in them this year?

Comparing the statistics side by side of the 2012-13 version of the Wolverines and this season, the numbers aren’t all that different.

Trey Burke and company shot 48-percent on field goals, opponents shooting 42-percent, and the team averaged 75.2 points per game compared to opponents average of 63.3.

This season, Michigan is shooting 48-percent from the field with opponents shooting 44-percent, but averaging 75.5 points per game and giving up 65.2.

Michigan’s three-point percentage is up one percent from a season ago and free throws have gone from 70-percent in 2012-13 to 76-percent in 2013-14.

After having four starters average double figures a year ago, Michigan’s three-headed monster of Glenn Robinson III, Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas lead the way for the Wolverines this season, led by Stauskas’ 17.4 points per game.

On the court, Michigan’s productivity and consistency are similar. Ask Coach John Beilein what he likes most about this team and he believes it all starts with their interaction away from the practice floor.

“I think they have a strong connection to each other,” he said. “We’re connected off the court, on the court. And any time you have that -- we’ve had good teams even here and you go into a locker room after a win and somebody’s got their head down and that hasn’t happened one time on this team after a win.

“They’re very connected so you go into it, no agendas, let’s just win as a team, cause we have some really good players that aren’t playing a lot of minutes.

“At the same time, they just come in and do their job so, I think that gives us a chance but at the same time you have both situations where you go in there with one clunker and you’re done.”

Michigan experienced that just two years ago, bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament against the Ohio University Bobcats.

With any luck, the Wolverines hope an early exit isn’t how their year ends in March.

“This season has been a great season,” Beilein said. “I hope this isn’t the last highlight.

“I hope we’ve got more in front of us.”

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