Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Wolverines Beat Kansas Despite A Late-Game 99.4 Percent Chance Of Losing

Illustration for article titled The Wolverines Beat Kansas Despite A Late-Game 99.4 Percent Chance Of Losing

The OMFGCU dream died last night around gone-to-bed o’clock, amid a flipbook of turnovers. Krzyzewski beat Izzo in the battle of the z’s. The Cardinals dispatched the Ducks. Higher seeds advancing, dynasties on the make, a swell Sunday set up.

But where were you for that Michigan-Kansas game? That sucker was ripe for a tune-out around, oh, I don’t know 2:30 left in regulation. Unless you were getting 200-to-1 odds that Michigan would pull it out, you’d have been better off taking Kansas.


For the more visual sorts, click here for another view. If you saw this entire game, congratulations: You got to watch Michigan win a game that it led for 25 seconds of regulation, way back at 9-8.

Water started spilling over the dam with 150 seconds left in the game. Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a three and Kansas’ Elijah Johnson got the rebound. Kansas was up 10.

Twelve seconds later Glenn Robinson III stole the ball from Johnson and went in for the dunk. Sixteen seconds after that, Johnson turned the ball over again, leading to a Mitch McGary layup. With 1:55 left in the game — approximately what Kansas would’ve had with that 10-point lead if the Jayhawks had merely burned the shot clock — the gap was 6. Johnson completed a very rough end to regulation by missing the front of a 1-and-1 with 13 seconds left. That allowed Trey Burke to scoot down court and heave up that tying three that might’ve been the single most dramatic play among the first 50-odd games of this tournament.

Kansas’ fate was that of virtually all good-not-great teams. Math requires it. The Jayhawks were no more convincing as a title contender than fellow felled No. 1 seed Gonzaga, a flameout of historical disappointment. Maybe it’s now worth wondering why the Wolverines were saddled with a No. 4 seed. The Wolverines ended the year ranked 10th in the AP poll. Their seven losses all came in their last 17 games of the season, but six came against Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin. And now, like Syracuse, the Wolverines are still dancing as a 4, when half of the 1s, 2s and 3s have lost.


Or maybe it’s not worth bothering. The seeds were the seeds and the teams played to them. With a couple of minutes remaining, Kansas had held court, as had Michigan, going down swinging. The Wolverines have been skidding a bit since January, but maybe it just means they’re peaking at the right time — namely, down a trey with less than 10 seconds remaining.

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