But not even Nostradamus could have predicted today’s outcome, as 20-point underdog New Jersey Institute of Technology upset No. 17 Michigan, 72-70, at Crisler Center. The Highlanders were led Damon Lynn’s 20-points, including his five second-half 3s – as he finished 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.
“Honestly, this wasn’t in my game plan,” NJIT coach Jim Engles said. “I sort of penciled this one in as a L.”
It turned out to the NJIT’s biggest win in school history. A program that is the lone independent school in Division 1 basketball.
“The whole student-athlete experience, we shouldn’t be the only independent in the country,” Engles said. “We’re not Notre Dame football, OK”
While NJIT didn’t wake up the echoes, they certainly had some luck of the Irish.
“Fifty eight percent, you can count on one hand the amount of people who shot 58 percent against us.,” U-M coach John Beilein said. “We got to grow in that area.”
Michigan (6-2) shot 42.6 percent from the field and showed little ball movement, finishing with eight assists and eight turnovers.
No other Michigan players scored in double digits. U-M had only nine bench points.
“I think the big thing we have to continue moving forward is to continue developing our bench,” Beilein said. “So when we see a guy who is not right at the time to be able to get him out of there and put somebody else in. And see we it’s not going to work.”
Without a conference and no chance of playing in the NCAA tournament, NJIT served notice that they should be in a conference somewhere. Maybe even the Big Ten.
“I’m trying to get in the American East or North East [conferences],” Engles said. “I want to get in the Big Ten now. How about opening a spot for us, right?”
As for Michigan, dealing with the national scrutiny is sure to come after the upset. And Beilien says that all part of the deal of coming to U-M.
“We’re on this national stage, you got to react both ways,” Beilein said. “When you beat a team like Syracuse, you says ‘Ok, that’s good.’ But this is no different than what Connecticut has do today as well with Yale beating them. Someone from their home state. A lot of people probably didn’t know New Jersey Tech was Division 1. They don’t have a league. This is something that is humbling. And we got to grow through it through that humility.”
In defeat, however, Beilein says his young team didn’t look past the heavy underdog NJIT.
“I didn’t sense that we looked past the team at all,” Beilein said afterwards. “I didn’t sense that. I just think we had a bad night – and we let it bother us.”
Now, will see if it lingers into Tuesday when U-M plays host to Eastern Michigan at 9 p.m.