University of Michigan Men’s Basketball had a scary encounter yesterday afternoon as the plane they were using to travel to the Big Ten Tournament skidded off the runway and crashed before takeoff. Realizing that high winds would be an issue, the pilot reportedly tried to abort the takeoff but could not break in time to prevent crashing. No passengers were seriously injured but it no doubt shook those on board.
Regardless of the circumstances, the team still had to find a way to make it to Washington D.C for a noon start. So at 7:30am this morning, the Wolverines boarded a plane to Dulles Airport heading immediately to the arena after landing. With no sleep and still reeling from a whirlwind experience, no one would blame them for going out and laying an egg. Throw on top of everything the fact that their uniforms were lost in the ordeal and they would have to wear practice jerseys for the contest.
But there was no egg-laying going on today. The Wolverines came out hotter than they have all season. It was a team playing like they had nothing to lose and there was a genuine feeling they were out there just having fun. Going into the locker room at half with an 11 point lead, Coach John Beilein called them a team, “who knows they are blessed.”
The second half was at times rocky but every time Illinois seemed to get close, Michigan would make those big plays that sweep the momentum back. Clutch shots, steals, and easy fast break buckets propelled Michigan to a 20 point victory.
The question now is will this be a problem going forward? Will the Wolverines be worn down in the later rounds of the tournament given their ordeal? It will be a tall order tomorrow afternoon as they take on the Big Ten’s best in Purdue. Don’t forget however that the maize and blue were one of the only teams to best the boilermakers earlier this season. Purdue relies on the big guys down low making plays which poses an interesting match up with the shooters of Michigan. I know Coach Beilein and his teams always seem to get on hot shooting streaks around the tournament. Playing fearlessly, don’t be shocked if they make a run for the Big Ten title and gain momentum into the tournament.