Men's Basketball

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Saturday afternoon against 7th-seeded Minnesota, 3rd-seeded Michigan (28-5 overall, 15-5 Big Ten) displayed those championship habits and then some, storming out to a 76-49 demolition of the Golden Gophers (21-13, 9-11). Just as the Big Ten regular-season title did last weekend in East Lansing, the tournament crown will come down to Michigan and Michigan State.

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CHICAGO — The whistle came just 28 seconds into the second half.

Then another, and another, and another and another, five Michigan fouls in two minutes.

Junior guard Zavier Simpson helped lead the Wolverines past Iowa with 11 assists.

That leadership, though, manifests itself best when he’s taking the ball up the court, springing teammates into open looks before returning to the other end and making sure Michigan’s opponent can’t do the same.

And for the next 30 minutes, Simpson did exactly that, leading the Wolverines to a 74-53 win.

Sophomore guard Eli Brooks got his confidence back by playing on the scout team at practice.

So the Michigan men’s basketball team faced a question: How could it get Eli Brooks back?

Why not make him someone else?

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No. 10 Michigan (27-5 overall, 16-5 Big Ten) moved on to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals with a blowout 74-53 win over Iowa (22-11, 10-11). And, after Minnesota knocked off Purdue earlier in the day, the path to a third-straight Big Ten Tournament final is falling into place.

John Beilein and the Michigan basketball team will begin the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.

Basketball in March is an adrenaline-based exercise. After a regular season of scheduled, staggered games against the same rotation of conference opponents, teams must prepare for opponents they haven’t seen on — at most — four or five days’ notice.

Michigan coach John Beilein's 2013 team also did not win the Big Ten regular season title, but then went on to make the Final Four that year.

As much as those reporters may have inadvertently learned about Beilein’s childhood agricultural findings, no group knows this as well as his 2013 team.

Junior center Jon Teske grew up playing pickup basketball with his 18 cousins at his grandfather's house.

How Teske has progressed is this: Two years ago, he came to Michigan and his biggest skill on a basketball court was being tall. He got his ass kicked in practice and rode the bench in games. On the year, he played 60 minutes, made one field goal and blocked seven shots.

Since then, his development has proceeded with the slope of a 45-degree line. The next year, Teske backed up Moritz Wagner and looked good doing it. Then Teske broke out at the Big Ten Tournament final against Purdue, creating the lasting image of the game by dunking on Isaac Haas and yelling into oblivion. When Wagner went to the NBA last summer, Teske stepped into the starting role seamlessly.

Michigan coach John Beilein will attempt to fix the Wolverines' recent mistakes as they head to the post-season.

Michigan could not stop Cassius Winston. Again.

Michigan State stymied the Wolverines’ ball-screen game. Again.

Michigan blew a second-half lead. Again.

Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers was one of many Wolverines in foul trouble early on in Saturday's loss to Michigan State.

But the Michigan men’s basketball team wasn’t just close in the sense that, in the last game of the season, it was competing for a conference championship. With three minutes left in the first half, the Wolverines were up 12, the title firmly within their grasp.