Michigan basketball fans fed up after damaging Big Ten tournament loss to Rutgers

Michigan basketball’s NCAA tournament hopes might have come to an end Thursday in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.

No. 8 seed Michigan got completely outplayed in the second half, suffering a damaging 62-50 loss to No. 9 Rutgers matchup at United Center in Chicago.

The Wolverines, now 17-15, entered play widely considered by experts among the “First Four Out” for the NCAA tournament. Their second-half play did not help the cause.

Michigan held a 28-25 halftime lead, but made one field goal in the second half over the first 19 minutes, and finished 4-for-21 shooting in the second half, a season-low for made baskets. The Wolverines were beat to rebounds, gave up a layup to the free throw shooter after a miss, and were completely outclassed by a Rutgers team they beat 58-45 on the road Feb. 23.

Michigan finishes the season 3-12 vs. Quad I opponents, and looks set to miss March Madness for the first time since 2015.

The Wolverines opened the second half 1-for-17 from the floor (and finished the period 4-for-21) and had a stretch of more than 14 minutes without a field goal as they fell 62-50 in the opening round game of the Big Ten Tournament to Rutgers.

U-M (17-15, 11-9 Big Ten) was projected on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble prior to Thursday and now seems a virtual certainty to miss the Big Dance for the first time since 2015. Michigan has made it to each of the past five Sweet 16s or further.

Those aren’t the only trends that flipped on Thursday. Michigan was 16-1 in 17 prior meetings with Rutgers and was 15-1 in its past 16 Big Ten Tournament openers.

Hunter Dickinson led the way with 24 points and seven rebounds while Kobe Bufkin added nine points, seven rebounds and five assists. Cam Spencer led Rutgers with 14 points and Simpson had 13 as Rutgers will move on to play No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday afternoon.

Second half melt down

The second half could not possibly have gone worse for Michigan, which entered the period up 28-25.

It started with a shot clock violation before Howard, Bufkin and Dickinson missed four shots.

The Scarlett Knights put together a quck 9-1 run, a Clifford Omoruyii hook shot, Simiipson floater and Spencer 3-poitner and Caleb McConnell elbow jumper to go up 34-29 and force a timeout by Juwan Howard.

After Bufkin made a pair of free throws, Aundre Hyatt hit a 3pointer from the top of the key for Rutgers’ fifth consecutive bucket. Dickinson buried a 3-pointer from the corner to get within 37-34, before he split a pair of free throws, McDaniel made two and Reed made one to get within 40-39 with 11:06 to play.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard reacts against Rutgers during the first half of the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Chicago.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard reacts against Rutgers during the first half of the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Chicago.

That’s when Simpson scored the quick three points to put Rutgers up 43-39 when the misses started to pile up.

Dickinson missed three, Howard missed three, McDaniel missed a pair, Bufkin missed a pair, and Tarris Reed and Terrance Williams each missed one shot before Dickinson hit a 3-pointer to end a 14:02 stretch without a field goal.

It started well, then faded fast

Dickinson established himself from the game’s opening possession, opening with a right-handed hook before connecting on a scooping layup two possessions later to make it 4-0 Michigan.

He grabbed two rebounds and blocked a shot in the game’s first two minutes as well before Howard added a long ball and Bufkin made a reverse layup on a pass from Dickinson to go up 9-2 early.

But as its done so many times this season, the Wolverines offense stalled. Michigan made just 2-of-11 shots over the next seven minutes and Rutgers slowly chipped away at the deficit to get within 13-11 on a Clifford Omoruyi layup with 9:49 to play in the half.

Dickinson had the answer for Michigan. The junior hit a floater plus the foul − par of his team-high 13 points in the half − for the three-point play before a Terrance Williams baseline jumper put U-M up 18-11 as the Wolveriners shot 48% (12-for-25) in the opening period against the league’s top defense.

All the while, Rutgers struggled rom the field. The Scarlett Knights missed their first seven attempts and then had a 1-for-10 stretch later in the half to open the game 4-for-23 through nearly 14 minutes.

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