Michigan basketball has been one of the best teams in college hoops all year, and are a true national championship contender when the NCAA Tournament tips off next week. In today's Big Ten Tournament semifinal against rival Ohio State, Juwan Howard's team mounted a furious comeback, but fell short on a less-than-impressive final possession.
Michigan took a one-point lead into halftime, but the Buckeyes controlled most of the second half. They led by as much as 13 with just 4:19 left in the game, going up 63-50 on a pair of E.J. Liddell free throws.
From there, it was all Michigan. Howard's team stormed back over the next three-plus minutes, outscoring Ohio State 17-5 down the stretch. With 50 seconds left, Chaundee Brown hit a huge three to cut Ohio State's lead to just one. OSU turned it over on the ensuing possession, giving Michigan the final shot with a chance to win the game.
Michigan had more than 20 seconds to score, but instead opted to let guard Mike Smith call his own number after a screen forced a switch up top. He took the clock down to about seven seconds before really pushing the envelope, and wound up settling for a falling stepback three with two seconds left, which caught the back of the rim to secure the Buckeyes win.
This certainly wasn't the kind of final shot that you'd hope most coaches would draw up, especially with mismatches like Hunter Dickinson on the floor for the Michigan basketball. After the game, Juwan Howard, who has been great leading his alma mater all year, said that the team drew up the play for Smith to go one-on-one, and they got what they wanted.
Obviously no one second guesses this if Smith drills the shot, but the play didn't look great from the start.
Ohio State advances to face the Illinois-Iowa winner in tomorrow's Big Ten Tournament final. Illinois leads that one by double digits late in the second half.
Says he called the play during the previous timeout, did not want to call another timeout after the final stop to give OSU a chance to set up the defense.
"I'll take that shot any day."
— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) March 13, 2021