How Michigan kept its tournament hopes alive with a shaky win at home

Michigan kept its tournament hopes alive with a second-half comeback against Northwestern. (USATSI)

Michigan entered Wednesday night “on the fence” and listed as one of the last four in the field of 68, according to Jerry Palm, and got a few favorable buckets at home against Northwestern. The Wolverines missed Caris LeVert, who remains out after getting shut down shortly after Jan. 1, as his absence lingered in a 72-63 win.

Michigan says it won’t rule LeVert out for the season, though there has not been any indication that the senior is close to returning from his lower leg injury. Shutting him down would prevent any further injury that could impact LeVert’s professional future, but since he wants to play, the team will let him continue his efforts to play without pain.

Northwestern brought the fight early and Michigan was slow to start. The Wildcats grabbed a fast 8-0 lead and didn’t give it up for 30 minutes of game action until Michigan finally made a move in the last nine minutes. Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way, combining for 30 points, and Derrick Walton Jr. (16 points) iced the game at the free-throw line.

Dawkins, in particular, started feeling it late and hit a couple huge threes to put the Wolverines in control.

Michigan snaps a two-game skid with the victory, and just in time. LeVert or no LeVert, the Wolverines will play for their postseason future at Wisconsin, against Iowa and in the Big Ten tournament.

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