ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Four games is all that stands between Michigan and the Big Ten tournament.
With the Wolverines (13-13, 6-8) on the outside looking in of the NCAA tournament and likely the NIT as well, Michigan’s one hope for postseason play could come in the form of capturing a Big Ten tournament title in Chicago next month.
Michigan’s chances of winning four or five straight games would be greatly aided by the return of point guard Derrick Walton Jr.
Still out with toe and foot injuries keeping him in a walking boot and at times crutches, his coach John Beilein updated the status of his sophomore Tuesday night following an 80-67 loss to Michigan State at Crisler Center.
“That’s tough to answer,” Beilein said. “As you all know I am not a doctor. But he’s been trying and it hasn’t gone as well as we hoped as far as trying to get him ready for any of these games.
“You just don’t know with the soreness that comes with the injury is part of not working out or it could be it’s still injured. So we’re trying to figure it out and they’re doing the typical type of examinations to see where it is.”
In 19 games, Walton Jr. was averaging 10.7 points per game to go with 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
In Michigan’s last five games, all losses, Spike Albrecht and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman have tried to pick up the scoring void. Albrecht is averaging 13-points per contest over that stretch while Abdur-Rahkman is scoring 9.8 points per game in that span.
Clearly Walton Jr.’s loss is having a severe effect on the Wolverines. With time slipping away for Michigan, Beilein isn’t overly optimistic he’ll see No. 10 back on the floor in the near future.
“I’m not real confident we’re going to see him real soon but it could be,” Beilein said. “It could be a day where all the sudden it feels great.”
Michigan will hope that happens soon with Ohio State headed to Ann Arbor Sunday for a 1 p.m. tip.