It's been said before and even more throughout the weekend. MI will be in the tournament for the third straight time and seventh overall under head coach John Beilein.
And the celebration will continue when MI hops on a plane for the second time since the crash with a championship trophy from a tournament they nearly missed.
Walton was the catalyst, producing six assists himself in the half, tying Michigan's full-game total against Purdue.
Not all hope is lost, though: Tomorrow, the 'Cats will nearly certainly get their first bid to the NCAA Tournament, keeping alive the best season in the program's history.
MI sophomore center Moritz Wagner was slowed down by foul trouble in the quarterfinals against Purdue, but got off to a quick start against Minnesota. Now they needed to do the little things to extend it. They deserved to win the game, and we didn't. Walton and Zak Irvin hit several free throws down the stretch as MI held on. He's an undersized senior point guard who does it all for the Wolverines. Pardon leads in rebounds with 8.0 while McIntosh tops in assists with 5.4 per game.
His sense of urgency on the end of his MI career was apparent during the Big Ten Tournament on his way to Player of the Tournament honors. And when a Duncan Robinson block with 11 minutes left led to a shot clock violation, Walton egged them on, gesturing and nodding his head in confident agreement.More news: Liverpool v Burnley: Reds to pass test of mental strength
His injury required five stitches in his leg, but it didn't slow him down. They chipped away at Michigan's lead, and after a Zak Showalter steal and layup with 6:19 left, the Wolverines held just a 51-45 edge.
Senior Nigel Hayes recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. "They can punish you when you're not doing well", Hayes said afterward when speaking about his team's struggles through February and into early March, which began with humbling loss to Northwestern (23-11) at home on Feb. 12.
MI still has the lead after trading 3-pointers with Wisconsin. The top 10 senior athletes with the highest grade points from each league school who have lettered in two sports are honored. Against an excellent Wisconsin defense - and a team that likes to slow down the tempo - MI shot 56.3 percent from the field and made 10 3-pointers.
But it was Minnesota that had a hot start to the second half, doing work in the paint before getting three straight triples from Dupree McBrayer and Nate Mason to cap a 15-4 run and tie the game at 55 with about 13 minutes remaining. And although the Badgers defense kept it close, it wasn't as close as the score showed because they simply couldn't put the ball in the bucket. MI was ice cold shooting the ball after its red-hot first half, at one point going more than six minutes without a basket. "All of the adversity that we've been to throughout the whole tournament, we stuck together as a family and got the job done".
It's tough to tell how good these two teams really are - or if they're pretenders.