Madison, Wisconsin-The Wolverines traveled to Wisconsin on Sunday for an important matchup regarding their NCAA Tournament resume. A win likely would’ve cemented U-M’s odds of making the big dance, but Michigan didn’t come home with a win. After a competitive first half of basketball, the wolverines came up short in the second half, falling to the Badgers 68-57. This loss puts the wolverines in a position where work must be done to make the postseason tournament.
Michigan came out of the gate guns hot, scoring on six of its first nine field goal attempts. Junior Forward Zak Irvin scored the wolverine’s first seven points. Complimentary buckets from junior guard Derrick Walton and sophomore forward Duncan Robinson helped the wolverines carry a four point lead (14-10) going into the first television timeout. The half concluded with a Donnal second chance layup off a blocked three point shot, and a Robinson shot from downtown, sending Beilein’s crew into the locker room with a 30-29 lead. Looking back, the wolverines will be kicking themselves over the abundance of lost 50/50 balls in the first half.
Michigan cooled off entering the second half, shooting just 2 for 7 from the floor, but a Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkamn second chance put back tied the game up 34-34. Zak Irvin stole the ball and took it coast to coast for a layup that gave the wolverines a two point lead, then the two teams traded scores until Wisconsin took the lead 43-40.
After a few empty possessions and a turnover, Coach Beilein called a timeout as U-M trailed 47-40. Ricky Doyle saw a lot more minutes as Mark Donnal suffered from foul trouble, and the wolverines suffered, stretching on a 1-7 shooting slump. Michigan had its opportunities to make some late game noise, but Walton and Irvin couldn’t solidify any momentum, missing two fast break layups. Wisconsin outscored Michigan 39-27 in the second half for a 68-57 win.
This loss puts Michigan in a tough predicament. Had U-M came out with a win, their NCAA Tournament chances would’ve been solidified. With one game left on their schedule against a resilient #8 Iowa next Sunday, the odds of a wolverine NCAA berth are diminishing.