NEW YORK — In mid February, the Michigan Wolverines looked like a decent team at 17-6, but nothing to write home about.
Now, they’re back-to-back Big Ten Tournament champions with a record of 28-7 and have reeled off nine consecutive wins after dropping Purdue 75-66 in Saturday’s conference title game at Madison Square Garden.
The first team to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champs since Ohio State did so in 2010 and 2011, this Michigan squad has been the best on the defensive side of the ball that head coach John Beilein has fielded since he took over the program in 2007.
Moe Wagner scored 17 points to help lead Michigan to it’s second consecutive Big Ten Tournament title with a 75-66 win over Purdue.
“It takes a long time to sort of build up the substance to your team that can persevere and just won’t give in,” said Beilein. “They won’t give in to fatigue. They won’t give in to momentum changes. They just stick in there. This is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached at just taking on the — moving on to the next play and keep moving forward and doing things just the old-fashioned way with a lot of hard work.”
Purdue walked into the championship game hitting 42 percent from deep, with sophomore guard Carsen Edwards putting on an exhibition over the last few days in New York City.
But in the championship game, Michigan’s defense had him looking suspect like Ben Carson’s take on immigration, holding him to 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
“We knew Purdue has a lot of great talent,” said Michigan’s pesky on-ball defender Zavier Simpson. “Good guard play. And Muhammad [-Ali Abdur-Rahkman] and I just wanted to come out and set the tone. We wanted to play great defense from the start so our energy could be contagious. And as you’ve seen, others followed. And we were just glad to be able to just take away the big 3, play good defense on [Purdue center Isaac] Haas and secure the win.”
Simpson might not get the national headlines or be a fixture on SportsCenter highlights, but he looks to be the key to Michigan’s machinery.
Moe Wagner scored 14 of his 15 points after a dreadful first half and fifth-seeded Michigan moved in for a 75-64 victory over top-seeded Michigan State in the conference semifinals Saturday.
“He’s a pit bull,” said Beilein, referring to Simpson. “We have a picture of a big, mean pit bull in our locker room for every game. And he is that guy. He’s one that loves to play defense. We’ve had some really good point guards, really good point guards over time. All those point guards right there were tremendous offensive players, and they were really good defenders also. They probably hung their hats on both ends. This guy hangs his hat on defense. And that’s a really great thing to have. He’s stubborn. He wants to play every minute.”
“He doesn’t want to rest,” Beilein continued. “He and I have — he’s just wore me out so much with how hard he plays, that he’s got a trust for me that he didn’t have earlier in the year. I mentioned before, he used to go in there, playing hard, and was not smart. He fouled people like crazy. Now all of a sudden they’re at the foul line. Now he’s really playing smart, defensive basketball.”
The Big Ten’s marquee event was called into question this year as it was moved up a week early and away from its traditional home in the Midwest so that it could take place in the world’s largest media market.
But the conference acquitted itself well in terms of excitement and attendance as the surprising Wolverines reigned supreme. And the Michigan supporters filled up the building more than any other fan base.
But with the conference tourney taking place a week earlier than usual, they’ll have to wait a week until Selection Sunday, much longer than they’re accustomed to.
“To play in this arena in front of that crowd, which was, I feel, was very pro Michigan, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us,” said Beilein. “So it will be worth the wait. I’ll remind everybody, there’s been some great NCAA Tournament teams that win their tournament like this Sunday or this Monday: Gonzaga; Wichita State; Butler. These teams all have been great NCAA Tournament teams, and I’ve had both Richmond and Canisius had the same wait. You work around it. We’ll give our guys some rest but
we’ll be practicing.”
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 21 points and Moe Wagner had 20 as No. 15 Michigan dealt a significant blow to Nebraska’s NCAA hopes, beating the Cornhuskers 77-58 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.
The past few times that Michigan punched a ticket to March Madness, they did so on the strength of an offense that was among the most prolific in the country, including the Trey Burke-led team in 2013 that lost the national championship to Louisville.
But those squads, defensively, were worse than DMX’s acting in Never Die Alone.
This year’s squad, however, is riding the strength of a ball-screen perimeter defense that has been choking the life out of all comers over the past month, limiting the opposition to 66 or fewer points in 22 of their 35 games this season and hitting their stride at the most important time of year.
Watching them snuff the life out of two of the best teams in the country in their 75-64 semifinals win over Michigan State on Saturday and by beating Purdue on Sunday for their second conference title in a row, here’s the top ten things I’d compare that Wolverine defense to, in honor of yet another Big Ten championship:
Black Belt Jones
Black belt jones intro
The Man With No Name in A Fistful of Dollars
Why Joe shot those 4 bandits? Check out the full version of the scene of “get three coffins ready” from the movie A Fistful of Dollars 1964
Subscribe to TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/sxaw6h Subscribe to COMING SOON: http://bit.ly/H2vZUn Subscribe to CLASSIC TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/1u43jDe Like us on FACEBOOK: http://goo.gl/dHs73 Follow us on TWITTER: http://bit.ly/1ghOWmt Foxy Brown Trailer – Directed by Jack Hill and starring Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown, Terry Carter, Terry Carter, Harry Holcombe.
Indiana Jones in The Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark movie clips: http://j.mp/22RvXbg BUY THE MOVIE: http://j.mp/1Wg9Hb2 Don’t miss the HOTTEST NEW TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/1u2y6pr CLIP DESCRIPTION: When Indiana (Harrison Ford) and Marion (Karen Allen) are attacked by assassins in the Cairo market, they use all the weapons at hand to defend themselves.
Little Seymour In Uptown Saturday Night
sidenote: This clip is edited to keep it short.
Mason Storm in Hard to Kill
Awesome fight scene from Hard to Kill, where Mason Storm teaches a multi-cultural street gang a painful lesson. Lesson from this clip: Mess with Mason Storm and he will snap your leg…
Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and Fred Williamson in Three The Hard Way
It has a topless torture squad, Jim Kelly’s neck breaking moves, and an Expendables pile of bullets fired. So…go watch it.
Floyd Mayweather on Defense
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpddpgIdNcE_uJNmoGcmi9Q – http://vk.com/boxinghighlightsc4tv Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/c4tv.youtube/?hl=ru Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+BoxingHighlightsC4TV _________________________________________________________________ Music: MIXOMIXRap Beats https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChhEl64Sw9CxAQzqeU1MgGw
The legendary scene from a legendary movie 🙂
Benny Blanco From TheBronx
Benny Blanco from the BRONX
Michigan might not have some supreme offensive weaponry, but Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman have the potential to drop 20 in any given game. And with what they bring when guarding the ball, don’t be surprised to see them make moves in March that no one would have predicted earlier this year.