RAPID RECAP: ‘Cats fall to Michigan, Big Ten Tournament Over

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Alex Olah

(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Northwestern and Michigan have a history of exciting basketball games. Last year, the Tre Demps game happened. 4 of the last 9 between the two teams needed overtime to be decided. On Thursday, it was no different, with the teams fighting out an overtime battle to open their respective Big Ten Tournaments in Indianapolis. Needing a win or two to secure an NIT berth, Northwestern fell just short in overtime on Thursday afternoon against Michigan, leaving their postseason fate up in the air heading into Sunday. Here’re our post-game thoughts:

  • It was a game of runs. After Tre Demps opened the game with a 3, Michigan answered with a 16-0 run, only to be pegged back by an extended Northwestern run that pulled the ‘Cats within two, before Michigan closed the first half on a 9-2 run, as Northwestern went scoreless for the last 3 minutes of the first half. It was tough to see a Northwestern team that needed a win come out and give up open shots, but credit the ‘Cats for fighting back. After Michigan buried a 3 to open the second half, Northwestern answered with a 9-0 run to pull within 3. Right after that, Michigan went on a run of their own, as Northwestern went dry from the field, and on and on it went. Things evened up down the stretch, making for a great, great basketball game. 
  • Both coaches took advantage of mismatches as they came about, with Northwestern punishing Michigan’s Andrew Dakich, and the Wolverines going after Gavin Skelly. As well, both coaches weren’t afraid to dig a bit deeper into their benches, with Nate Taphorn seeing some run for NU, and playing quite well in the second half down the stretch, and Mortiz Wagner looking to exploit mismatches for Michigan.
  • After a relatively quiet first half, Alex Olah came alive at the start of the second half, taking advantage of his mismatch against the smaller Michigan defenders, mainly Ricky Doyle. Olah buried a massive 3 down the stretch of regulation, and knocked down the fade-away shot to send this one into OT. Northwestern’s best moments on offense came with Alex Olah attacking his defenders one-on-one.
  • In one of his final games in a Northwestern uniform, Tre Demps was quite effective from beyond the arc, but struggled inside it. Demps finished the afternoon with 21 points, 15 of them coming from beyond the arc. It was nice to see Demps find his shooting stroke, and to see Northwestern as a whole stroke it relatively well from beyond the arc.
  • What an exciting basketball game. Analysis and stats aside, this was just a very fun game to watch, and the perfect way to spend a Thursday afternoon. Shots were made, and this one stayed so close down the stretch. What a fun, fun game, with a zany finish to both regulation and overtime. As well, it’s always fun to see guys hit shots down the stretch, which was certainly the case today. 
  • Zak Irvin fought through a tough afternoon to hit the MASSIVE game winning shot for the Wolverines. 19 points on 16 shots isn’t pretty, but Irvin hit the biggest shot when it counted. 
  • Michigan’s post-season fate is still a bit of an unknown, but credit the Wolverines for getting the job done today, fighting off one heck of a challenge from Northwestern, and giving themselves a chance to seal their tournament fate tomorrow against Indiana. A loss today may have ended Michigan’s tournament hopes, a win tomorrow may just seal them.
  • Indianapolis is just about the perfect place for the Big Ten Tournament. The tournament can sometimes get lost when held in Chicago, but in Indy, it just feels big (or should I say, B1G), as it should. While the next two years will see the tournament head to Washington D.C. and New York City, in the future, the Big Ten should do its best to hold the tournament where it belongs, in Indy.
  • Random, but Michigan’s gold uniforms are just so clean. It’s a great look, and might just be one of the best uniform combos in the Big Ten. Match that with some shoes with yellow accents, and you have a very good looking basketball team.

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