Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

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The Michigan Wolverines defeat the Wisconsin Badgers by a final score of 71-56. Derrick Walton Jr. and Michigan completed an unlikely run to a Big Ten title in the nations capital. The Michigan Wolverine’s overcame an unfortunate plane accident during takeoff on Wednesday and seized the opportunity that lay ahead in running the table at the Big Ten tournament. This Wolverine squad is clicking on all cylinders and poses as a real threat to make a run in the NCAA tournament. Walton was named Big Ten tournament MVP and has been the catalyst for Michigan’s late season surge. The Wisconsin Badgers were playing well coming into the title game, but they really struggled from the floor only shooting 39% on the day.

 

Derrick Walton Jr. has shown a capability to lead his team to a level that many didn’t think was possible just a couple of weeks ago. Walton, a stat sheet stuffer as a point guard, finished with 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Walton is an elite level penetrator and when he may struggle with his shot at times he seems to always create other opportunities for his teammates. Walton will be the most important player for the Big Ten champs heading into next weeks NCAA tournament.

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Also leading the charge for Michigan was fellow senior guard Zak Irvin. Irvin tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The lengthy guard has been shooting at a high level recently and is extremely effective from the mid range or when driving the lane. Irvin will be a huge part of Michigan’s offense and defense if they plan on continuing their magical run late into March. The other bright spot for the Wolverines was junior power forward D.J. Wilson. Wilson played a solid tournament and was an anchor in the post. The solidly built forward (6’10 240) is a physical player with an ability to stretch the floor as well. He provided a toughness that was definitely needed against a scrappy Wisconsin squad. Wilson finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

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Wisconsin struggled to get any offense going during the contest. They had 15 turnovers and only shot 39% on the day. They had zero points from their bench. Wisconsin is normally a team that spreads the ball around and gets contributions from everyone to some extent. That was not the case Sunday. Wisconsin was completely out of rhythm and ran into a buzz-saw in Michigan. Nigel Hayes had 14 points, eleven rebounds and two blocks. Ethan Happ had 14 points, eleven rebounds and three assists. Senior point guard Bronson Koenig scored 15 points.

 

The all tournament team was as follows

 

Ethan Happ

Nigel Hayes

Bronson Koenig

Zak Irvin

Derrick Walton Jr. – Most Outstanding Player

NCAA Tournament Schedule

 

Michigan will be a 7 seed in the Mid West Bracket and face 10 seed Oklahoma State Friday at 12:15 p.m.

Wisconsin will be an 8 seed in the East bracket and face 9 seed Virginia Tech Thursday at 9:40 p.m.

Maryland Survives Yet Again

Oklahoma State @ Maryland

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Maryland stormed back late in the second half to steal a win away from Oklahoma State 71-70. Melo Trimble made two free throws with under ten seconds to play to seal another late nail bitter win for the Terps. Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State made an off balanced floater, but it was after the buzzer had sounded. This game had the feel and energy of a tournament game in March.

 

Leading the way for Oklahoma State was star sophomore point guard Jawun Evans (6’1 185). Evans was a huge force in the first half penetrating the lane at will and putting himself and his teammates in positions to score. Evans also showed his quickness and pesky play on defense forcing Terps point guard Anthony Cowan into several turnovers. Jawun displayed why the NBA scouts may be keeping a close watch on him despite his lack of size. Not to mention his wingspan is reportedly over 6’4 and is quite noticeable. Evans fizzled off in the second half however only scoring six points. Cowan did a solid job guarding him and Damonte Dodd stepped up his pick and roll defense. Evans finished with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Also making a huge impact for the Cowboys was junior small forward Jeffrey Carroll (6’6 215). Carroll had a massive impact on the boards. He seemed to have an instinct that only the great rebounders have. He was constantly around the ball keeping it alive or just corralling the board himself. On offense Carroll showed an ability to hit the corner three in catch and shoot situations, as well as put the ball on the floor once the defense over commits. Carroll still has some work to do with his ball handling and playmaking abilities, but he has a solid skill set to start from. Carroll finished with 15 points, 3 of 6 from three and a game high 12 rebounds.

Phil Forte III (5’11 195) struggled shooting the ball all night. He went 3 of 16 from the field, including just 2 of 10 from three. Forte did play some solid defense on Melo and others to contribute in a different way. Forte finished with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.

 

For Maryland Melo Trimble (6’3 185) led the way. Trimble impacted the game with his veteran leadership and his defense that has vastly improved over the last two seasons. Trimble’s shooting woes continued from three going 0 for 5 on the night. Melo’s shot looks good and has consistent form it just still isn’t falling for him. When Melo struggles from three he just drives the lane and does what he does best. He may be the best penetrator in the country. Trimble finished with 13 points, six assists and four rebounds.

The Terps received unexpected contributions from a couple of role players on the night. The most impactful in the second half was junior guard Jaylen Brantley (5’11 170). Brantley provided a much need spark when Maryland was down 60-48 late in the second half. He was in the game while Melo was taking a rest and the Terps erased a twelve point deficit and took a lead 61-60. Brantley made several key jumpers and even attacked the rim where he drew contact on several occasions. Brantley finished with twelve points and two rebounds.

The other impactful player for the Terps was senior center Damonte Dodd (6’11 250) or also known as Doddzilla. Dodd was a force in the paint on both ends of the floor. On offense he crashed the glass hard, getting five offensive rebounds. Dodd mainly scored off of very close range lay ins or put backs. His offensive game is still very limited and raw. On defense Dodd was a nuisance to anyone who dared to come in the paint. He altered many shots and finished with three blocks. If Dodd can consistently provide this effort and impact for the Terps that will vastly help balance their perimeter heavy attack. Dodd finished with twelve points, eight rebounds and three rebounds.

 

This game provided positive signs for fans of both teams. For Oklahoma State it showed that they can compete in a tough road environment. They just need more work on how to put away an opponent on the road, which is easier said than done. For Maryland it showed that they will never give up no matter how dim the situation may seem. The question for Maryland is how long can they live on the edge like this?

 

Up next for Maryland is a home game vs Howard on Wednesday.

Up next for Oklahoma State is an away game vs Tulsa on Saturday.