March 3, 2017
The University of Michigan men's basketball team (19-11, 9-8 Big Ten) closes the Big Ten regular season with a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on Nebraska (12-17, 6-11 Big Ten), Sunday (March 5) at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The game is the final game of the conference season and one of the last regular season games in all of college basketball.
MAIZE & BLUE QUICK NOTES Michigan is 5-2 in its last seven games with those two losses in overtime to a red-hot Minnesota squad (7-game winning streak) and a last second layup at Northwestern. In fact, since U-M's 85-69 loss at Illinois, U-M has lost five Big Ten games by an average of just 4.6 ppg. With one more victory, Beilein will tie U-M legendary coach Johnny Orr for most wins at Michigan with 209. In fact, with another win and adding in Beilein's 40 wins at Newfane HS, he will amass 800 total in 42 years patrolling the sidelines. Just two games ago, Beilein picked up his 500th Division I victory at Rutgers (Feb. 22; 68-64). A win at Nebraska would give U-M 20 wins for the seventh time in Beilein's 10-year U-M career. Overall, it would be the 28th for the Wolverines all-time. Additionally, a win over the Cornhuskers would give U-M 10 conference wins for the seventh time in Beilein's tenure with the Wolverines. In fact, Beilein would become the first coach with seven 10-plus win Big Ten seasons as Johnny Orr, Bill Frieder and Steve Fisher had six during their respective careers. U-M is still tracking a school-record pace of 77.1% from the free throw line -- better than the 2013-14 squad's record of 76.2%. The Wolverines continue to lead the Big Ten and is 13th nationally. Michigan continues to lead the country with the fewest turnovers per game (9.4). U-M has had 10 or fewer turnovers in 22 games.
HOW ABOUT SOME WOLVERINE TIDBITS With 123 assists this season, Derrick Walton Jr. is the first Wolverine to record three seasons of 100-plus dimes since Daniel Horton (2003-06). Walton has amassed 433 total in his career, ranking sixth all-time. With 15 points at Northwestern (March 1), Walton has 1,315 (30th all-time). He needs 90 points to crack the all-time top 25, which is held by current radio analyst and 1989 national champion team member Terry Mills (1,405; 1988-90). Zak Irvin gives U-M two 1,000 point scorers as he is closing in on 1,500 points (1,490; 21st all-time). He has averaged 12.5 points per game, scoring in double digits in 23 games. In 134 career games, he has recorded double digits in 81 contests. This season he has a season best of 23 points against Virginia Tech (Nov. 30). He has 12 20-plus point games in his career and 43 with 15-plus points. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has scored in double figures in eight of his last 10 games, including the last five straight games. During the stretch he has averaged 12.6 points, while shooting 57.9% (34-for-55) from the field and 48.1% (13-for-27) from long range. With his 525 career rebounds, Walton is just the fourth U-M guard in U-M's 500-plus board club. He is joined by Ray Jackson (578; 1992-95), Manny Harris (559; 2008-10) and Jimmy King (535; 1992-95). He needs 53 to move to the top of that four-man guard grouping. D.J. Wilson has 43 blocks this season. That already is the most by a Wolverine in nine seasons. The last Wolverine to post more than 43 swats was during U-M coach John Beilein's first season -- Ekpe Udoh (92, 2007-08). The most in between then was Mitch McGary's 28 during the 2012-13 season. Michigan has 281 three-pointers this season with six Wolverines already posting 20-plus. Derrick Walton Jr. leads U-M with 73, while Duncan Robinson has 54. The list rounds out with Zak Irvin (38), Moritz Wagner (38), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (34) and D.J. Wilson (30).
THE SERIES WITH NEBRASKA Sunday night's game will be the 16th all-time meeting between the Wolverines and the Cornhuskers. U-M holds a 13-2 series lead, while John Beilein is 7-0 all-time. Michigan has won the last nine meetings, including all seven since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Moritz Wagner scored 23 points, Zak Irvin posted 21 and Derrick Walton Jr. had 20 in a 91-85 shootout win at Crisler Center (Jan. 14). Nebraska guards Tai Webster (28) and Glynn Watson Jr. (22) scored 50 of the Cornhuskers 85 points going a combined 21-for-35 from the field and 5-for-10 from long range. In the last meeting in Lincoln on Jan. 23, 2016, Michigan used a 14-6 run to open the second half and got 21 points from Duncan Robinson in an 81-68 win. Walton added a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CORNHUSKERS Nebraska fell, 88-73, on the road at Minnesota (March 2) -- its third straight loss. Glynn Watson Jr., led the Cornhuskers with 14 points while Tai Webster pulled down eight rebounds. Overall, Webster -- who is Nebraska's only senior -- leads the Cornhuskers with a 17.5 points per game. In fact, his average bumps up to 17.9 in conference games. Watson's 13.4 points per game gives Nebraska two players in double figures. The duo makes for 43% of Nebraska's offense. Ed Morrow Jr. did not play in the first game this season as he was out with a foot injury. For the season he is averaging 9.4 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds per game. Much likes U-M's Duncan Robinson, Jack McVeigh comes off the bench and is a threat from long range as 70 percent of his attempts are from beyond the arc (129-of-186). He averages 7.7 ppg and is shooting 34.1% from deep.
WHAT'S AHEAD? Following the battle with the Cornhuskers, U-M's attention shifts toward the postseason and the Big Ten Tournament (March 8-12) at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. U-M will get a first-round bye and could be seeded anywhere from No. 6-7-8 seed.
Communications Contact: Tom Wywrot