Indiana beats Michigan, secures Big Ten outright
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Cody Zeller squeezed the basketball as the final seconds ticked off the clock, sealing Indiana’s first outright Big Ten title in two decades.
It was a fitting finish, for sure. Because without some huge plays by their 7-foot center, the second-ranked Hoosiers would’ve had to share the conference championship.
Zeller made a go-ahead layup with 13 seconds left and altered Trey Burke’s shot at the other end, lifting Indiana to a 72-71 victory over No. 7 Michigan on Sunday.
After falling out of bounds on the final sequence, Zeller got up quickly and gave teammate Christian Watford someone to save the ball to at the end.
“We’ve been working on that all year – closing out games,” said Zeller, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hoosiers (26-5, 14-4) trailed by five in the final minute but took advantage when the Wolverines (25-6, 12-6) were unable to close it out at the foul line, costing themselves a piece of the Big Ten title.
Jordan Morgan had a fairly easy tip-in attempt of Burke’s miss that could have won it for Michigan, but the ball rolled tantalizingly around the rim and off.
“It just hung there,” Burke said.
Watford got to the rebound – Indiana had 23 more boards than Michigan – with 4 seconds left and threw it back in bounds to Zeller.
Indiana’s 26th victory, and the fact that it withstood test after test in the highly competitive Big Ten, might have earned the Hoosiers a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They will be the top-seeded team at this week’s Big Ten tournament in Chicago.
When the Hoosiers finished off Michigan and the teams shook hands along the sideline, Crean and Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer, a former Hoosiers assistant, had a heated exchange.
“I’m not talking about any of that,” Crean said. “Ask him.”
The Wolverines blew a chance to win a share of the Big Ten title for a second straight year for the first time since the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
“This really hurts,” Burke acknowledged. “This was for a championship.”