Michigan Owns the Big Ten:
The Michigan Wolverines (28-7, 13-5) are the first team since the 2011 Ohio State Buckeyes to win the Big Ten Tournament title two years in a row. But these Wolverines have done it in a different fashion. In 2016, they won five games in five days, including defeating the No. 1 Purdue, No. 2 Wisconsin, and No. 4 Minnesota. Although it was one less game this time around, Michigan still took down No. 1 Michigan State, No. 2 Purdue, and No. 4 Nebraska. Prior to 2017, only one team had ever won four games in four days at the Big Ten Tournament, and now Michigan has done it in consecutive years.
The reason why? John Beilein. The 65-year-old head coach is making all the right calls and all of a sudden, he has a title contender on his hands. One of Beilein’s many strengths is player development. He has proven that he can make a player better in a few short years. Trey Burke was a four-star recruit, and within two years, won National Player of the Year. Caris LeVert was a two-star, but is now averaging 11.8 points per game in the NBA. D.J. Wilson was a three-star, and was turned into the No. 17 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. And now it’s Moritz Wagner’s turn.
Wagner’s Rise to Stardom:
Wagner was a four-star recruit, but only received one official offer. That was Michigan. In his junior year, he’s averaging 14.5 and 7.1 rebounds per game, all while looking the part of a future NBA player. The German big man has now led his team to a pair of Big Ten titles. In the championship game yesterday against Purdue, Wagner dropped 17 points in just 17 minutes. Other guys like Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman have contributed a lot as well. But Wagner is at the center of it all. Now at No. 7 in the AP Poll, Michigan has a chance to win it all.
Beilein and Wagner are ready for a deep tournament run.
Photo Credit: Detroit News.