Last season: 33-8, reached national title game.
Coach: John Beilein.
Conference: Big Ten.
Who's gone: Forward Moe Wagner, guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, guard-forward Duncan Robinson.
Wolverines may need to win with defense again
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — By the time last season ended, Michigan had long shed its reputation as a finesse team. The Wolverines reached the Final Four by playing hard-nosed defense and outlasting opponents even when shots weren't falling.
The team was comfortable winning ugly — and Michigan may need to call on that resolve again in the season to come.
It didn't take long for Ibi Watson to find a new landing spot.
Less than two weeks after Watson announced his intentions to leave the Michigan basketball program, the 6-foot-5 sophomore wing posted Wednesday on Twitter that he'll be heading closer to home and transferring to Dayton.
"I'm extremely blessed to announce that I am going to continue my academic and athletic career at the University of Dayton. Go Flyers!" Watson tweeted.
Go through the gallery for a player-by-player analysis on the Michigan basketball 2018-19 season, by James Hawkins of The Detroit News.
Throughout much of the regular season, nobody was talking about Michigan basketball.
The Wolverines had no one-and-dones, no consensus first-round draft picks and no preseason All-Americans on the roster.
All they had was each other. And in the end, that proved to be more than enough.
San Antonio — Nothing lasts forever.
No matter what happens in Monday's national-championship game against Villanova at the Alamodome, it will mark the end of another era for Michigan.
The makeup and group of Wolverines that set a program record for wins in a single season, won a Big Ten tournament title and reached the title game for just the seventh time in program history will never be the same.
San Antonio — Michigan coach John Beilein was so busy with media responsibilities Saturday night that he was unable to watch any of the first half of Villanova's national semifinal rout of Kansas.
Turns out, all Beilein missed was Villanova tying a Final Four record with 13 made 3-pointers — and that was in the first 20 minutes alone.
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Monday's national championship game between Michigan and Villanova (9:20 p.m., TBS/950).
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Staring down a 10-point, second-half deficit against an underdog that seemed nothing short of blessed during the madness of March, Moe Wagner and Michigan clamped down on Loyola-Chicago and ended one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament runs ever.
Wagner scored 24 points, Charles Matthews added 17 and the Wolverines rallied to beat the Ramblers 69-57 Saturday night in the Final Four.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had been difference makers for Michigan various points of the season.
The Wolverines are headed to the national title game despite getting very little contribution from the two starting guards.
Michigan beat Loyola-Chicago 69-57 in the Final Four Saturday night, earning a chance at its first national title since 1989 despite Simpson and Abdur-Rahkman combing for 7 points on 2-for-17 shooting.
San Antonio – Michigan seniors Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson both had to bet on themselves.
Robinson took a leap of faith when he transferred from Division III Williams College after his coach, Mike Maker, left for another job. Abdur-Rahkman took a risk and held out for a better Division I offer following his senior season at Allentown Central Catholic High in Pennsylvania, which was no guarantee.
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Saturday's national semifinal game between Michigan and Loyola-Chicago (6:09 p.m., TBS/950).
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Saturday's Elite Eight NCAA Tournament game between Michigan and Florida State (8:49 p.m., TBS/950).
Michigan runs away from Texas A&M for 27-point victory, will play Florida State in Elite Eight
LOS ANGELES – Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said the Wolverines were able to pick and choose their spots on offense during a Sweet 16 game against Texas A&M.
It looked like there wasn’t a bad one Thursday night on the floor or the Staples Center.
Michigan runs away from Texas A&M for 27-point victory in Sweet 16, will play winner of Gonzaga-Florida State
LOS ANGELES – Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said the Wolverines were able to pick and choose their spots on offense during a Sweet Sixteen game against Texas A&M.
It looked like there wasn’t a bad one Thursday night on the floor or the Staples Center.
Los Angeles — Michigan proved it could prevail when it wasn't at its best in the NCAA Tournament.
On Thursday, the Wolverines sent a message and showed just how dangerous they can be when they're firing on all cylinders.
Third-seeded Michigan used a dominant first half to steamroll No. 7 seed Texas A&M, 99-72, in a Sweet 16 beatdown and emphatically stamp its ticket to the Elite Eight for the third time in six seasons.
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Thursday's Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game between Michigan and Texas A&M (7:37 p.m., TBS/950 AM).
Elite defense enables Michigan to win ugly
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — When Jordan Poole's long 3-pointer dropped through the net for Michigan, a whole lot of unsightly shooting beforehand was forgotten.
It's been that kind of season for the Wolverines, who are winning without much concern for aesthetics.
Before Poole’s heroics, five-point play was turning point for Michigan
Wichita, Kan. – Houston had Michigan on the ropes late in the second half.
Trailing by five with less than eight minutes to play and in the midst of a nearly five-minute scoring drought, any hope of returning to the Sweet 16 appeared to be slipping away from the Wolverines.
That was until the unexpected happened – a five-point play.
Wichita, Kan. — Michigan had one last chance.
Trailing 63-61 with 3.6 seconds left, the Wolverines had one final shot to win the game.
Freshman guard Jordan Poole didn't miss, nailing a 3-pointer as time expired to lift third-seeded Michigan to a stunning, 64-63 win over No. 6 seed Houston in a second-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday night at Intrust Bank Arena.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Michigan freshman Jordan Poole drained a long 3-pointer at the buzzer after Houston squandered a chance to lock up a spot in the Sweet 16, giving the third-seeded Wolverines a heart-stopping 64-63 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Saturday's second-round NCAA Tournament game between Michigan and Houston (9:40 p.m., TBS/950).
Wichita, Kan. — For a team that hadn't played in almost two weeks, Michigan certainly played the part.
A combination of early fouls and turnovers. A slow offensive start. Sloppy execution.
The third-seeded Wolverines trudged through it all and overcame a 10-point deficit to top No. 14 seed Montana, 61-47, in an ugly first-round NCAA Tournament game Thursday night at Intrust Bank Arena.
Wichita, Kan. — Stifling. Stout. Spirited.
They are words one often wouldn't associate with Michigan's defense in past seasons — maybe only as an antonym.
That hasn't been the case this season where third-seeded Michigan rolled into the NCAA Tournament and its first-round game against No. 14 seed Montana at Intrust Bank Arena as one of the hottest teams with one of the top defenses in the nation.
No. 3 seed Michigan faces No. 14 seed Montana in West
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — No. 3 Michigan (28-7) vs. No. 14 Montana (26-7)
First round, West Region; Wichita, Kansas; Thursday, 9:50 p.m. EDT
BOTTOM LINE: The Wolverines might be the hottest team in the country, winning five straight to cap the regular season and four more to capture the Big Ten Tournament title. Montana is seeking its first NCAA Tournament win since 2006.
James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Thursday's first-round NCAA Tournament game between Michigan and Montana (9:50 p.m.; TBS/950).
Do More. Say Less.
It's a message Michigan wore on its warmups during the Big Ten tournament in New York two weeks ago.
But it's been a state of mind for senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, a soft-spoken leader who quietly has evolved into an unassuming star for the Wolverines.
New York — Purdue got the best of Michigan twice in crushing fashion in the regular season.
The Wolverines made sure Round 3 in the postseason wasn't going to follow the same script.
Fueled by another balanced scoring effort and huge spark by Jon Teske, fifth-seeded Michigan exacted its revenge and defended its Big Ten tournament title with a 75-66 victory over No. 3 Purdue in Sunday's title game at Madison Square Garden.
NEW YORK (AP) — Maybe the most familiar fight song in college sports filled Madison Square Garden as Michigan turned the last six minutes of its Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal against Nebraska into garbage time.
"Hail to the victors valiant," the many Michigan fans sang as they were able to start turning their attention to a semifinal on Saturday that will bring a little extra juice to the Garden. For just the second time, Michigan and Michigan State will meet in the Big Ten Tournament.
New York – Michigan was craving another crack at Nebraska.
The Wolverines got their long-awaited shot on Friday and didn't miss, using another stifling defensive effort and a dominant first half to roll to a 77-58 victory in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson shouldered the load and combined for 57 points for Michigan (26-7), which avenged its 72-52 regular-season loss two months ago in Nebraska.
New York — Michigan senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had to stop and think about the question.
When was the last time he fouled out of a game?
"Last one I can remember, I think, was my freshman year at Michigan State," Abdur-Rahkman said following Michigan's 77-71 overtime win over Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday. "I think I fouled out. I'm not sure."
Following a solid junior campaign, Michigan center Moritz Wagner was named to the All-Big Ten second team by the league's coaches and media on Monday.
Wagner, who was preseason All-Big Ten selection, led the Wolverines in scoring (14.4 points) and rebounds (7.2) while ranking in the top 15 in the conference in field-goal percentage (53.6 percent, tied 13th) and 3-point shooting (40.9 percent, tied 13th).
Abdur-Rahkman’s play compared to Derrick Walton Jr.
College Park, Md. — It's a story Michigan has seen unfold before.
A senior guard seemingly putting everything together and playing the best basketball of his career heading into the postseason.
Following Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's career-high 28-point effort in Saturday's 85-61 win over Maryland at Xfinity Center, Michigan coach John Beilein couldn't help but compare Abdur-Rahkman's ascent to former Wolverine Derrick Walton Jr.
No. 17 Michigan beats Maryland 85-61 for 5th straight win
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — It was a first half so pristine, so darn near perfect, that Michigan didn't know what was more impressive — its uncanny shooting ability or unrelenting defense.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 22 of his career-high 28 points before halftime, and the 17th-ranked Wolverines easily defeated Maryland 85-61 Saturday for their fifth straight victory.
College Park, Md. – Michigan rained all over Maryland's parade.
The Wolverines used a 3-point barrage and a career day from senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to dismantle Maryland, 85-61, in the regular-season finale Saturday at Xfinity Center.
Ann Arbor — Michigan found itself in control with a double-digit lead over Ohio State in the second half.
This time around, the Wolverines flipped the script and avenged their crushing loss earlier this season with a 74-62 victory over the Buckeyes in front of a sellout crowd in Sunday's home finale at Crisler Center. Ohio State's loss gives Michigan State a full-game lead in Big Ten standings.
"Senior Day" signals the closing of one momentous chapter in a young player's life and the beginning of another.
It celebrates the accomplishments that have taken place in a years-long journey and the lasting imprint that will be left behind.
Ann Arbor — It's closing time for Michigan.
More importantly, it's the time of the year where the veteran Wolverines need to start taking the reins and kicking it into another gear with the regular-season winding down.
It's a transition that's starting to come to fruition with fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson and senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who hear the clock winding down on their careers.
Robinson scores 18 as Wolverines beat Hawkeyes 74-59
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Lately, Duncan Robinson has found himself pondering his legacy.
Senior co-captains Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each scored 18 points to help No. 22 Michigan beat Iowa 74-59 on Wednesday night. It was a win that both young men looked at as another stepping stone toward greater achievements.
Ann Arbor – With No. 8 Ohio State on tap and a pair of tough road games looming, Michigan was looking to build some momentum heading into the closing stretch of the regular season.
Fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson made sure the Wolverines got rolling in the right direction.
Robinson continued his recent 3-point resurgence and Michigan withstood a hot start from Iowa to take care of business with a 74-59 victory Wednesday at Crisler Center.
Madison, Wis. — There are places that have been unkind to Michigan.
And then there's the Kohl Center, where leaving with a loss has been the norm for quite some time.
The Wolverines bucked the trend and hung on to beat Wisconsin, 83-72, Sunday to leave Madison with just their second win since 2000.
Rosemont, Ill. – The past two times Michigan traveled to Northwestern, it checked into Heartbreak Hotel with a pair of crushing defeats.
The Wolverines had another deflating stay on Tuesday.
Michigan squandered a 10-point first-half lead and went over nine minutes between made field goals during a miserable second half in a 61-52 loss to Northwestern Tuesday at Allstate Arena.
Ann Arbor – When the game is on the line, who is going to take the shot for Michigan?
It was a legitimate question heading into the season with top options Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin and D.J. Wilson all gone from last year's Sweet 16 team.
Enter senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who has risen to the occasion and become the go-to scorer in the clutch for the Wolverines.
Ann Arbor – A team can make or break its March resume in February.
Michigan was pushed to the brink and nearly dealt a blemish against a scuffling Minnesota team.
But in the end, the Wolverines were able to overcome poor free-throw shooting and huge games by Minnesota's Nate Mason and Isaiah Washington in a wild 76-73 overtime win Saturday at Crisler Center.
No. 24 Michigan holds on to beat Minnesota 76-73 in OT
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman made up for missing two free throws late in regulation when he failed to take advantage of an opportunity to seal a victory.
Abdur-Rahkman bounced back with a tiebreaking three-point play with 3.8 seconds left in overtime and finished with 17 points as No. 24 Michigan held on to beat Minnesota 76-73 Saturday.
Ann Arbor — Everything seemed to be going Charles Matthews' way throughout the first half of the season.
Matthews, a redshirt sophomore forward, poured in at least 20 points in six of Michigan's 13 nonconference games and shot 58.2 percent (92-for-158) from the field as he established himself as the top scoring option.
But things have gone awry in recent weeks and Matthews' numbers have taken a dip in Big Ten play.
Ann Arbor — Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman couldn't imagine Michigan shooting the way it did Monday night and still being able to pull out the win earlier in his career.
The Wolverines shot 42 percent (21-for-50) from the field and 28 percent (7-for-25) on 3-pointers, which rank as their fifth- and fourth-worst shooting numbers in a game this season.
Ann Arbor — Coming off one of its most efficient offensive performances of the season, Michigan hit a roadblock against Northwestern.
The Wolverines mightily struggled to figure out the Wildcats' 2-3 zone while the 3-point misses piled up throughout a woeful first half. Eventually, No. 24 Michigan was able to find enough cracks in Northwestern's defense to pull out a 58-47 victory Monday at Crisler Center.
West Lafayette, Ind. — The first clash between Michigan and Purdue was a back-and-forth battle that went down to the wire.
Round 2 followed a similar script, but at a dizzying offensive pace.
When the dust from a wild second-half shooting display settled, a late 14-2 run, critical turnovers and missed free throws led to Michigan's undoing in a 92-88 loss Thursday at a packed Mackey Arena.
Ann Arbor — It's a stat not often seen in the box score following a 40-minute game: one assist.
Fifth-year senior forward Duncan Robinson can't recall ever playing in a game where a team finished with a number so low and senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman didn't even realize it till afterward.
Ann Arbor — Freshman guard Jordan Poole calls himself "The Microwave" for his ability to quickly heat up and scorch the net in a moment's notice.
And as Michigan nears the midway point of the Big Ten season, coach John Beilein is trying to find a way to add to Poole's timer.