The Michigan women’s basketball team ended their regular season 22-8 (11-5 Big Ten), tying a program record of most wins and finishing with their best conference record since the 2010-11 season. Coming off a heartbreaking 76-75 loss at Penn State, the Wolverines look to start anew this Friday in the Big Ten Conference Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.
Michigan enters the tournament as the third seed and they will play their first tournament game Friday night at 9:00 pm. With a bye for the first two games of the tournament, the Wolverines have the benefit of wresting their legs and preparing for their competition. On Michigan’s side of the bracket, No. 14 seed Rutgers faces No. 11 seed Wisconsin in the first game and the winner will take on No. 6 seed Michigan State.
As the Wolverines prepare for the tournament, they will continue to study film from the MSU game, as they will most likely face the Spartans in the third round. After being trounced by MSU at Crisler, Michigan will need to find an answer to stop the Spartan’s senior guard Tori Jankoska who burned them from downtown. During the State game, the Wolverines learned how intense Big Ten games can be and how essential it is for them to bring the highest level of passion and intensity to every game they play. If Michigan does face the Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament, they are sure to be full of fire and motivated to take revenge against rival Michigan State.
Despite a painful loss in Happy Valley, Michigan is in a perfect position to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament. They have just the right amount of time to rest their bodies and improve their play with a couple practices while being able to watch their competition in the first two rounds of the tournament. Moving forward, the Wolverines need to do just that, they cannot dwell on their loss in the final game of their regular season and they should forget that they have a target on their back as the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten.
Big Ten Coach of the Year Kim Barnes Arico has been stressing to her team, that Michigan needs to enjoy the ride and have fun playing basketball during the tournament. With their dynamic trio receiving Big Ten honors, Katelynn Flaherty (consensus first team), Hallie Thome (first team/second team), and Kysre Gondrezick (consensus second team/all-freshman), the Wolverines should play with confidence knowing that they are a young team with blossoming talent. If Michigan is able to create ball movement, play solid defense, and run in transition like we’ve seen them do throughout the regular season, they will be a fun team to watch in the Big Ten Tournament and beyond.
The Big Ten Tournament begins today as Nebraska takes on Illinois at 1:30 pm and Rutgers faces Wisconsin at 3:35 pm. All of the Big Ten Tournament games can be found on BTN and Sunday’s championship game will be aired on ESPN2.