Michigan Basketball: Wolverines Will Bounce Back from Fluky Loss at Wisconsin

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2013

February 5, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines players huddle before the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines are one of the top college basketball teams in the nation and are beginning to hit their stride at the right time, despite losing at Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon.

That's because if it were not for a half-court heave from the Badgers' Ben Brust at the end of regulation, the third-ranked Wolverines would have walked off the court winners.

Instead, they went on to lose 65-62 in overtime and leave Madison as losers of two of their last three games overall.

But Michigan will bounce back.

Big Blue has a road matchup with rival No. 12 Michigan State on Tuesday, and then they head home to play Penn State and Illinois before taking on the Nittany Lions again on the road to close out the month.

Don't be surprised if Michigan is riding a four-game winning streak going into March, the most important month of the college basketball season.

After all, there are plenty of positive takeaways from Saturday's gut-wrenching overtime defeat at Wisconsin.

Besides the fact that the Badgers needed a half-court buzzer-beater just to force overtime at home, there's the eye-popping free-throw disparity.

While Wisconsin shot 5-of-10 at the foul line, Michigan attempted just two free throws for the entire game, with Trey Burke going 50 percent at the stripe.

Plus, the Wolverines performed well on the boards, bringing in 37 total, including nine offensive rebounds, despite ranking eighth in the Big Ten in rebounding this season.

But the most impressive accomplishment from the Wolverines in hostile territory this weekend was their lack of turnovers.

Michigan only committed six turnovers for the game, compared to Wisconsin's 14. Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten in fewest turnovers per game this season, but the Wolverines were able to significantly outplay the conference's best team in that category on Saturday.

If there was one huge area of weakness for Michigan against Wisconsin, it was field-goal percentage, specifically the Wolverines' 5-of-18 mark from beyond the arc. The Badgers hit 10 three-pointers on 24 attempts, finishing the game plus-15 from downtown and plus-4 from the foul line.

If not for Wisconsin's late desperation heave, Michigan would have likely won in regulation.

Had things turned out differently, the Wolverines would be 22-2 and likely set to move into No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll following Indiana's loss at Illinois and Florida's loss at Arkansas earlier this week. 

But this is college basketball, and polls mean nothing. Getting to the Big Dance is goal No. 1 for every team in America, and barring an epic, late-season collapse, Michigan will be dancing come mid-March.

The Wolverines are sure to bounce back from their defeat in Madison, even though they almost didn't have to.


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