Michigan women’s basketball coach Kevin Borseth asked his players if they had ever won a tournament game.
Each one shook her head no.
The Wolverines haven’t seen the second day of the Big Ten tournament since 2004, the year before the current seniors enrolled at Michigan.
Players told Borseth the team had always seemed to play well heading into the postseason, only to lay an egg in the tournament.
“Lets hope we can reverse our luck a little bit,” Borseth said.
So far this season, the Wolverines (9-9 Big Ten, 16-12 overall) have reversed all the downward trends of the recent past. They have put together their first winning season in six years, earning the seventh seed in the Big Ten Tournament – the same seed Michigan held when it won its last tournament game.
“They’ve certainly put themselves in a position that they can feel like they can be successful,” Borseth said. “But that’s all going to come to a head in the tournament.”
This afternoon, Michigan will be a favorite to advance, squaring off against 10th seed Penn State (4-14, 13-17).
In the regular season, the two teams split the series, both winning their home games. On Jan. 20, Michigan fell 68-57 in State College. But two weeks later, the Wolverines avenged the loss when they overcame an early deficit and outplayed the Lady Lions for a 68-53 victory.
Penn State tends to push the pace and sometimes runs a four-guard lineup.
Borseth knows his team has to play aggressively against a Lady Lion team that has defeated then-No. 12 Duke and then-No. 14 West Virginia.
“On defense, we have to rebound,” Borseth said. “And we have to take care of the ball on the offensive end. We’ve got to score.”
If Michigan pushes past Penn State, it will face No. 2 seed Iowa Friday, another team the Wolverines split with during the regular season.
The Hawkeyes (13- 5, 20-9) are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and at one point reeled off eight straight in conference play.
Although in past years Michigan played well heading into the tournament, this year it’s coming off two demoralizing losses.
In those losses, against Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Wolverines had difficulty closing games. They were outscored by a combined 35 points in the second half.
“We just have to have a little more energy,” Borseth said.
But Borseth knows he won’t have trouble motivating his team in today’s game.
All he has to ask is, “Have you ever won a tournament game?”
Penn St. vs Michigan
Matchup: Penn St. 13-17; Michigan 16-12
When: Today, Noon
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse