In the wake of last week's Fab Five documentary, the theme for Michigan's game against Duke today was to shock the world. After trailing by 15 points with 10 and a half minutes to go, the chances of this game producing anything shocking seemed slim.
Michigan went on a run and kept battling back, however, eventually chipping the lead down to one point with 10 seconds left. Nolan Smith was fouled after the inbounds pass and made the first free throw. The second was no good, and Michigan's Zack Novak grabbed the rebound. He passed the ball to Darius Morris, who went straight down the floor before pulling up for a runner in the paint that would have tied the game. It bounced off the back of the rim and into the hands of a Duke player as time expired, giving the Blue Devils a 73-71 victory.
The defining characteristic of the 2010-11 Wolverines is that they never backed down and always fought back. Just look at the comeback against Kansas that led to an overtime loss or the run against Ohio State that made things close last week in the Big Ten tournament. Most of all, just look at what happened after Michigan started 1-6 in the Big Ten. It made a run that culminated with playing Duke in the NCAA tournament and being inches away from going to overtime after being down by 15 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Perhaps most impressive about the Wolverines' comeback is that they were even able to stay in the game with all of the fouls going against them. In the first half, player after player went to the bench with two fouls, resulting in guys like Blake McLimans and Jon Horford seeing action. (Horford picked up two fouls pretty quickly, but he had a nice dunk before going out.) By the end of the game only Evan Smotrycz fouled out, but Morris and Morgan had four fouls, Zack Novak had three and three others had two.
Despite the foul trouble, Michigan ended up having five players score in double figures. Morris led the way with 16 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. came on strong at the end, making some clutch shots to finish with 15 points. Smotrycz played really well, knocking down five of his seven field goals and both of his three-pointers en route to 13 points. Novak also shot the ball well from three-point land, scoring all 12 of his points from behind the arc. Finally, Morgan ended up scoring 10 points with a strong second half.
For Duke, four players scored in double figures. Smith, one of the top players in the country, had 24 points. Kyle Singler didn't have his best day but still managed to score 13 points. Ryan Kelly shot the ball well and had 11 points, and Kyrie Irving finished with 11 as well. All but two of Irving's points came from the free throw line.
Duke's victory means the run to a repeat is still alive. The Blue Devils will be off to Anaheim next week to take on the winner of today's game between Arizona and Texas. Michigan, on the other hand, is headed home to start looking ahead to what should be a very promising 2011-12 season. With the entire team set to return and a couple of good recruits coming in, the future is very bright for Michigan.
If you are in need of a printable NCAA bracket to keep track of the tournament, make sure to download SB Nation's March Madness Bracket.