The Indiana Hoosiers’ struggles in the Big Ten Tournament continued as the Michigan Wolverines pulled off the 72-69 upset to knock the Hoosiers out of the quarterfinals on Friday. The Hoosiers are now 11-19 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament.
Troy Williams led the Hoosiers in scoring with 16 points. Thomas Bryant had 13 points and seven rebounds while Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell added 14 points and eight assists. As a team, the Hoosiers went just 4 for 17 from three-point range and committed 15 turnovers.
Indiana had a three-point lead in the final minute but back-to-back three-pointers, including Kameron Chatman’s game-winner with 0.2 seconds on the clock, gave Michigan a much needed win as the Wolverines try to make a final push for the NCAA Tournament.
Yet even though the Hoosiers went one and done in the Big Ten Tournament and will miss out on a top-2 seed, there is still plenty of room for optimism.
Unlike for a team such as Iowa, an early conference tournament exit isn’t as big of a blow to Indiana because the Hoosiers had nothing to prove. While Iowa needed a good run to erase the bad taste from what has basically been a late-season collapse (five losses in final seven games before Big Ten Tournament), The Hoosiers came into Indianapolis having won five in a row en route to clinching the regular season conference championship. While a loss halts that momentum it doesn’t erase it.
In fact, you could argue that an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament is a blessing in disguise. The Hoosiers have been beaten up the last couple of weeks and the last thing this team needs is to play three games in three days. The time off will help a lot of players such as Juwan Morgan, who finally finshed a game after leaving early during Indiana’s last two regualr season games. It will help players who have continuously taken a beating over the season such as Collin Hartman, who took a tumble against Michigan, and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, who probably leads the Big Ten in number of drives to the basket that draw contact but don’t draw a foul. It also lets Indiana focus more attention on getting Rob Johnson back from his ankle injury and make him ready for the NCAA Tournament.
With all that being said, this was still a dissapointing performance for a team that will now likely earn a 3/4-seed and will have to face one of the better mid-majors for their first NCAA Tournament game. It also was a shame that this specific Hoosier team, one that has exceeded expectations and has proven to be different than other recent good Indiana teams, couldn’t win the school’s first Big Ten Tournament championship.
But at the end of the day, all that matters is winning in the NCAA Tournament and losing to Michigan during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament won’t prevent that from happening. Let March Madness begin.