In the Midwest Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (32-5) moved on to the Elite 8 for the second straight year, beating the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (26-12) 69-68 on Thursday night in Kansas City, MO.
Derrick Walton Jr. put up 20 points and eight assists while Zak Irvin got 19 points and eight rebounds. D.J. Wilson had 12 points and two blocks.
The first half was sloppy for the maize and blue as they committed an uncharacteristic seven turnovers. They also went just 5 for 14 from three-point range and had the ball stolen away five times. The Ducks, meanwhile, were able to take advantage of these mistakes and control the tempo to take a 35-33 lead into halftime.
The Ducks did’t take their foot off the gas in the second half. They continued to force Michigan to take late shots and drive into the paint to keep their lead. However, the Wolverines used consecutive three-point jumpers to take a 61-60 with 4:15 left.
As the game progressed, the Ducks fought back to get the lead and keep it late in the game. After they missed a free throw on their last possession, the Wolverines got the rebound and drove down the court with 14 seconds left. As time ran out, options became limited and so Derrick Walton Jr. took a three-point shot just moments before the buzzer. It looked close on its way down, but it bounced off the rim as time expired and the clock struck zero, with Oregon having survived.
The two teams were almost dead even from field-goal range with the Wolverines making a new more three-point shots. The Wolverines turned the ball over eight times and were out-rebounded 36-31.
With the loss, the Michigan Wolverines’ 2016-17 season comes to a close. It was one filled with great memories that will be remembered for a long time. After being 14-9 in early February, the Wolverine soon all but two of their remaining regular season games. The maize and blue then went on to win their first Big Ten Tournament since 1998 after their plane slid off the runway the day before their first game. The team kept that magic going as they beat No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Louisville in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, respectively.
The team will lose a few players to graduation, two of them being Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin. They could return several underclassmen, but nothing is certain yet. Regardless, this season was one for the ages in Michigan lore and it makes next year’s season all the more exciting to watch.