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Missed free throws didn’t help, but rebounding more glaring issue for No. 7 Michigan

Mar 10, 2013, 6:48 PM EDT

In the final 38 seconds of their game against No. 2 Indiana, Michigan missed the front end of two one-and-ones. Missed free throws by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke set the stage for a Hoosier comeback, with Cody Zeller scoring the last of Indiana’s six consecutive points with a layup with 13 seconds remaining to give IU the 72-71 win.

Michigan had two chances to win at the other end of the floor, but Burke’s running left-hander bounced off the back of the rim and Jordan Morgan’s follow did this:

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The result gives Indiana (26-5, 14-4) its first outright Big Ten title since 1993, a major accomplishment for Tom Crean’s program given where it was when he took over in April 2008.

For Michigan (25-6, 12-6) this is a tough result to swallow, as it drops them to the five-seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament and means that they’ll have to play on Thursday (against Penn State). The concern for Michigan going forward has nothing to do with missed free throws, and in all honesty this area didn’t cost the Wolverines the game.

But if Michigan doesn’t rebound better than they did on Sunday their chances of postseason success diminish greatly.

Indiana out-rebounded Michigan 53-30, grabbing 24 offensive rebounds on the day. Victor Oladipo (13 total rebounds) and Cody Zeller (ten) combined for 11 offensive rebounds with Oladipo accounting for seven of those.

However the Hoosiers converted those second-chance opportunities into just 17 points, and when combined with Michigan scoring 19 points off of 14 Indiana turnovers it’s easy to see why John Beilein’s team had a chance to grab a share of the Big Ten title in the final minutes.

In conference games Michigan entered Sunday’s game ranked sixth in the Big Ten in defensive rebound percentage, grabbing 68.9% of their opponents’ missed shots. Indiana’s offensive rebound percentage on Sunday: 57.1%.

Despite their issues on the glass Michigan had a chance to put Indiana away at the foul line yet they failed to do so. Beating Indiana may have changed the tenor of the postgame chatter about the Wolverines, but not the message itself.

If Michigan is to have a chance of getting to Atlanta they need to do a better job on the defensive glass. Jordan Morgan (eight rebounds) by himself won’t be enough.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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