Michigan doesn’t have a ton of big wins on its NCAA tournament resume, but one thing that could be said was that the Wolverines didn’t have any bad losses.
That can no longer really be said.
Ohio State, riding a wave of positivity with Evan Turner’s jersey retirement ceremony at halftime, dealt its rival school a blow to its tournament hopes by handing the Wolverines a 76-66 loss in Columbus. The Buckeyes used a well-rounded performance that saw five players score in double figures and no one score more than 13 in the win. Marc Loving was probably the best of the bunch, scoring 13 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out five assists.
For his part, Turner delivered a nice halftime speech thanking his friends and family within the Buckeye community, then told Celtics general manager Danny Ainge that he could “pay (him) all he wants” this coming July when Turner is a free agent.
Whether that will come to pass, we’ll see, but it was undoubtedly a nice moment for a Buckeye favorite and former National Player of the Year.
On the other side, Michigan played this one without the services of Caris LeVert, who is truly day-to-day at this point after making his return to action on Saturday. Without him playing his role for the Wolverines, depth became a factor as the Ohio State bench outscored Michigan’s 20-9.
John Beilein’s group is now sitting at 19-7 with a 3-7 record against the top-50 (all of these games were also against top-25 competition) and a 5-8 record against the top-100. They’re on the right side of the bubble for now thanks to nice wins over Maryland, Texas and Purdue, but the schedule gets a bit tricky for them in their final four league games. They have Maryland this weekend on the road, followed by a home game against Northwestern, a road game at Wisconsin and a home game against Iowa.
The Wolverines probably want to go 2-2 in those games to feel safe, as anything worse could leave them needing wins in the Big Ten tournament to sure up a spot.