ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After logging two big wins in the penultimate week of the regular season, the Michigan Wolverines climbed in Monday’s AP Top 25 Poll. The Wolverines are the highest ranked team in the Big Ten once again, rising to No. 7. Seventh-ranked Michigan has just one game this week, taking on No. 9 Michigan State Saturday night in East Lansing. That game marks the teams second Top 10 matchup of the season, and their fourth such meeting since 2013. The game will tip off at 8 PM ET and can be seen on ESPN.
As for the rest of the Big Ten, Purdue is ranked 11th, Wisconsin is 21st, and Maryland is 24th. Outside of the Top 25, the Big Ten currently has all fourteen conference members ranked in the Top 100 in the NET ranking and the Top 75 in KenPom. The race for sixth through 14th is shaping up to be a crowded field during this final week of the regular season leading into the conference tournament in Chicago, which starts Wednesday, March 13.
The Wolverines are coming off a 69-62 win at No. 17 Maryland. Michigan showed great resolve with Charles Matthews missing a second-straight game with an ankle injury he suffered against Michigan State. Isaiah Livers came up clutch in Matthews absence, scoring 11 points including the dagger three-pointer with less than a minute to play. Zavier Simpson missed seven minutes in the second half after recording his third foul, but the Wolverines did not capitulate in his absence. Once Simpson returned with 11:03 left in the game, Maryland did not score another field goal until there was 3:39 remaining. It was Michigan’s best road win since the Wolverines beat reigning National Champion Villanova in November.
The other two standout statistics from the game were that Michigan committed just three turnovers in forty minutes, and freshman Ignas Brazdeikis drew nine fouls en route to a game-high 21 points. He also thoroughly embraced playing the villain at the Xfinity Center, blowing kisses to the crowd after draining a three-pointer in the second half. The win improved Michigan to 26-4 on the season. A win Saturday over Michigan State will tie the Wolverines with the 1985-86 Michigan team for most regular season wins in program history with 27.
Michigan sits a half game back of Purdue in the Big Ten race. The Boilermakers and Spartans both have two games remaining. If Purdue wins out, it will win the Big Ten outright for the second time in three years. With games at Minnesota and vs. Northwestern, that is a likely scenario. If Purdue drops one of those games, Saturday’s matchup in East Lansing will see the winner claim a share of the Big Ten championship. Michigan State hosts Nebraska on Tuesday before getting ready for its rematch with the Wolverines.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany announces retirement
The Big Ten Conference issued a release Monday morning stating that longtime Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will retire at the end of his contract, which runs out June 30, 2020. Delany has served as the conference’s commissioner since 1989 and in his 31 years helped develop the Bowl Championship Series, was instrumental in implementing Instant Replay in college football, and oversaw the launch of the Big Ten Network in 2007. Northwestern president Morton Schapiro will lead the search for Delany’s replacement. Some are speculating that Northwestern athletic director Jim Philips may be an early front runner as Delany’s replacement.
Big Week on Wolverine Lounge
Last week was a big one on Wolverine Lounge with full coverage of Senior Day at Crisler as well as a feature story on former Wolverines Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III playing each other in Cleveland. Be sure to stay tuned this week as Saturday’s titanic clash between the Wolverines and Spartans is sure to be another great one.