Michigan downs Iowa 74-53 in Big Ten tourney play

Michigan’s Charles Matthews, front, celebrates with Zavier Simpson after scoring a 3-point basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO — The second time proved to be the charm.

No. 10 Michigan basketball avenged a regular-season loss to Iowa and demolished the Hawkeyes, 74-53, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament Friday night at United Center.

In the first matchup on Feb. 1, a 74-59 Iowa win, Michigan couldn’t hit shots against Iowa’s zone and Jon Teske struggled with foul trouble.

That wasn’t the case Friday. The Wolverines (27-5) averaged 1.29 points per possession in the first half and took a 40-27 halftime lead.

Teske, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, played 14 first-half minutes and tallied eight points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Ignas Brazdeikis led Michigan with 15 points.

It was a complete performance. Michigan held Iowa to 0.80 points per possession and 1-of-16 shooting from 3, and five different Wolverines reached double digits on offense.

The Wolverines punched their ticket to the semifinals of the conference tournament, where they’ll face seventh-seeded Minnesota — a team Michigan swept in the regular season.

In all, a solid day for the Wolverines.

They recaptured some mojo on offense, beat a team that they struggled against in the regular season and got Charles Matthews back from injury. And with Texas Tech, LSU and Purdue all losing in the past two days, Michigan may have even locked up a No. 2 NCAA seed, two days before Selection Sunday.

Here are three takeaways:

Crisp offense

Iowa’s defense isn’t the greatest. Still, the Hawkeyes gave Michigan plenty of trouble in February and held the Wolverines well under a point per possession that game with a combination of a soft press and zone.

The Wolverines blew that up Friday.

Aside from one scoreless streak in the first half where Michigan missed six consecutive shots, the Wolverines’ offense was efficient.

Michigan made 7-of-16 3s in the first half and assisted on 13 of 15 made field goals. The Wolverines took control by hitting open jumpers.

Isaiah Livers found soft spots against the zone and made four jumpers in a row in the first half. Eli Brooks came off the bench to hit a couple 3s, while Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Zavier Simpson combined to shoot 6-of-11 from outside.

And despite a flurry of early fouls in the second half that saw Matthews and Poole sit for an extended period, Michigan’s offense didn’t miss a beat. The Wolverines hit three of their first six 3s, consistently found open shots and pushed the lead past 20 with ease.

Matthews back from injury

Matthews returned to his hometown this week. He returned to Michigan’s lineup, too.

Matthews, who went to high school 30 minutes away from the United Center, sat out the previous three games with a right ankle injury suffered in Michigan’s 77-70 loss to Michigan State on Feb. 24.

All indications were that he would be able to play in the Big Ten tournament, based on his progress. Still, it was unknown whether he would be limited or not.

Against Iowa, the only thing that limited him was foul trouble.

Matthews started the game and played 25 minutes.

Although he missed his first four shots, he hit a 3 that stretched Michigan’s lead to 11 late in the first half. He didn’t have a great shooting performance — he finished with five points points on 1-of-9 shooting — but looked comfortable physically and added excellent defense.

NCAA tournament seeding

Last week’s loss to Michigan State saw Michigan drop to a 3 seed on plenty of bracket projections.

But Friday’s win, coupled with some early exits around the country, may have secured a 2 seed.

Texas Tech, a projected 3 seed that could’ve moved up the seed line, lost to West Virginia on Thursday.

LSU — a team that might’ve jumped Michigan — lost to Florida in the SEC tournament. And Purdue, another projected 3 seed, lost to Minnesota on Friday night.

Of course, as Beilein and most other coaches would say, the draw matters the most.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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