Wolverines survive in OT with a 72-70 win over Northwestern

With two straight losses to close out the regular season, the Wolverines were looking for a win or two in Indianapolis to help strengthen their case for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile Northwestern, in the midst of a three-game winning streak, was playing the part of spoiler as they aimed to pull off the upset.

It was a back and forth contest Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, as the Wildcats were able to force overtime on senior center Alex Olah’s put back with 0.1 seconds left. Both teams would exchange blows in the extra period, but a jump shot by junior guard Zak Irvin with 3.3 seconds left gave the Wolverines a 2-point lead. Northwestern could not send the game to a second overtime after Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. mistakenly stepped out of bounds with 0.6 seconds left following a steal of the inbounds pass. The Wildcats missed the ensuing three point shot to seal a 72-70 victory for the Wolverines.

In a game where both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, Michigan was able to make just enough shots to hold on after blowing a 13 point lead. Sophomore guard Duncan Robinson led the way for U-M with 21 points. Irvin added 19 points including the game-winning jump shot and sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman scored 14 points in the win.

The Wildcats gave the Wolverines all it could handle as seniors Tre Demps and Alex Olah combined for 41 points. Sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh also contributed with 19 points for a Northwestern(20-12, 8-10 Big Ten) team that will await to hear if they are NIT-bound.

Michigan(21-11, 10-8 Big Ten) will have little time to rest as they advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, where they will play Big Ten regular-season champion and 10th-ranked Indiana(25-6, 15-3 Big Ten). The game can be seen tomorrow Noon ET on ESPN. A crucial game indeed for the Wolverines as they are currently one of the first 8 teams out of the tournament according to ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi.