ANN ARBOR, Mich – A muddled Big Ten championship picture could be cleaned up quickly on Sunday afternoon.
If Indiana could find a way to pull out of a win at Crisler Arena, they would win the Big Ten title outright and prevent multiple sharing of the regular season crown. If they fell to Michigan, however, as many as four teams could claim a part of the championship including the Wolverines.
So as fans might have imagined, the on court tussle for the title was one that took all 40 minutes as the crimson and maize engaged in a classic to close each other’s seasons. In the end, it would take an epic rally for the Hoosiers to bring clarity to the chaos.
Indiana rallied for a 72-71 win over Michigan Sunday afternoon, one in which they rallied five point deficit in the final 52 seconds. Cody Zeller’s lay-up with 14 seconds left gave the Hoosiers the lead and completed the run of six straight points by Tom Crean’s team.
Michigan had a number of chances around the bucket in a final flurry but couldn’t get one to go as the Hoosiers got the rebound and celebrated on the floor in front of a stunned crowd at the Crisler Center.
With the victory the Hoosiers have won their first outright championship since the 1992-1993 season and will have the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s Big Ten tournament.
Such a result seemed improbable when Michigan made a big run after Victor Oladipo put in a bucket to put Indiana up 66-65 with 2:37 to go. Trey Burke quickly tied the game 20 seconds later with a jumper and then the Wolverines got the lead back on a Jordan Morgan lay-up. A turnover by Yogi Ferrell then led to a tip-in by Tim Hardaway Jr. with 1:13 to play.
Another turnover by Zeller led to a free throw by the Wolverines but Zeller redeemed himself with a bucket on the other end with 38 seconds to play to make it a three-point game. After a Hardaway missed free throw, Zeller came down the floor and drew a pair of free throws which he made to cut the lead to one.
Once again after an Indiana foul Michigan couldn’t convert as Burke missed a free throw. Indiana immediately got the ball down the floor and got the ball to Zeller, who put it in with 14 seconds left. Michigan went straight down the court and Burke had the first chance to tie the game on a lay-up but missed. Morgan got the rebound but his shot spun off the rim.
Christian Watford got the rebound and was able to keep it away for the victory, one 20 years in the making for the Hoosiers.