Loss to Ohio ‘tough to swallow’ for Michigan

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Almost lost in the mix of two 15-seed upsets was a sizeable Ohio win that, on most any other day, would headline the evening sportscasts.

But there’s always the other side of the coin.

Michigan, having won 24 games and finishing in a three-way tie for the Big Ten title, watched their hopes for a deep run in the NCAA tournament fall at the hands of a pesky, upset-minded MAC team on Friday night.

“It’s going to be hard to swallow,” said guard Stu Douglass, who had five points on 2-for-7 shooting. “Something that’s going to motivate me all summer.  I’ll put it that way.”

This wasn’t nearly as surprising as Norfolk State over Missouri, or even Lehigh over Duke, but Ohio was impressive in holding off the co-Big Ten champions to move on to the Round of 32.

Michigan didn’t commit a difference-making amount of turnovers, though Ohio typically does a good job of forcing them, but the Wolverines shot just 41% from the floor, including five straight missed shots down the stretch.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke were a combined 9-for-29 from the floor, including 4-for-15 from three-point range.

But coach John Beilein, for all the disappointment he may be feeling now, has much to look forward to.

Assuming Burke and Hardaway Jr. make the right decision and stay another season, the Wolverines have a strong three-man class headed to Ann Arbor, led by Top 30 forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson.

For Beilein’s seniors, though, this is the end of the road.

“It’s difficult, because they’ve been the heart and soul of this team for four years through so many good times and certainly some low roads at times, but you hate to see that,” he said. “But frankly, most teams do end with a loss, whether it’s first round or the fourth round.”

Ohio moves on to play South Florida on Sunday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_