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Published: Thursday, 3/11/2010

UM feels Big Ten tourney begins new season

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan looked like a team going absolutely nowhere and doing it with little interest Sunday when dropping its final game of the season to Michigan State 64-48.

In that game, the Wolverines had a season-high 19 turnovers, shot 34.9 percent from the field, and went 4-of-21 from 3-point range (19 percent).

Today, in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, No. 8 seed Michigan (14-16) looks for some semblance of redemption when it faces No. 9 Iowa (10-21), with the winner of that game getting top seed and Big Ten co-champion Ohio State in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

"We've got a big job to try and pick up the pieces, and the sulking period can be over now," Michigan coach John Beilein said about the emotional hangover of the loss to the Spartans. "With us, it's a brand new season."

Michigan went 7-11 in the Big Ten, and two of those wins came over the Hawkeyes. The Wolverines won by 14 at home and by two in overtime at Iowa.

Beilein said those results, plus everything else that transpired during Michigan's up-and-down season, have little significance now.

The Wolverines, who went all season without winning three games in a row, would need four consecutive victories to win the Big Ten tournament and advance to the NCAA.

"We don't look at it like we've got to go win four," Beilein said. "It's one game at a time - I know that's 'coach speak' - but at the same time, you are four wins away from going to the NCAA tournament.

"It would be an incredible story, but ... it's happened."

Michigan senior forward

DeShawn Sims, who is averaging 16.9 points per game this season and has 22 career games with 20-plus points, said the Wolverines have essentially painted themselves into a corner.

"It's all or nothing," Sims said. "If you're not going to come out and play hard and try to win the tournament, then you definitely shouldn't show up."

Sophomore guard and Indiana native Zack Novak said the Wolverines have demonstrated the potential to play with anyone in the league, and just need to duplicate that on a consistent basis over the next four days.

"It's going to come down to us being focused on playing as well as we can, and trying to get into the [NCAA] tournament," Novak said.

"We've showed flashes all year, and had our ups and downs, and hopefully we can learn from that. That's kind of what we've responded to all year, having our backs against the wall."

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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