INDIANAPOLIS - Moe games coming.
After two weeks where Michigan carried Moe Wagner, he returned the favor in grand style, carrying No. 7-seed U-M to the Sweet 16, knocking off No. 2-seed Louisville, 73-69, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon.
Wagner finished with a career-high 26 points, getting anything he wanted down low and D.J. Wilson iced it with four clutch free throws and a game-sealing block in the final seconds.
U-M advances to face the Oregon/Rhode Island winner on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
Wilson finished with 17 points.
Michigan (26-11), which made its last Sweet 16 appearance in 2014, and continues its crazy run, having won 12 of 14 games.
Louisville (25-9) had won six straight Round of 32 games with the last loss coming in 2007.
For the first time in weeks, someone other than Derrick Walton Jr. had to take the reins.
With Walton 3-for-13 from the floor (though he hit a nasty clutch three late), it was the Moe show.
Unstoppable in the post, his moves around the basket were critical as the Wolverines adjusted to Louisville’s length.
U-M attacked when Mangok Mathiang was on the bench in foul trouble and seized the lead.
Like many times in the past six weeks, Michigan was on the ropes, with the opponent ready to bust it open but rallied.
Up nine with under 16 minutes to play, Louisville’s Quentin Snider had a three that popped out. Instead of making the lead 12, it stayed at nine and Michigan got aggressive.
Ripping off a 15-4 run, the Wolverines took their first lead since the first minute at 53-51 with under nine minutes remaining.
Michigan spent most of the first half overcoming obstacles. Walton without a point in the first 15 minutes. Struggling from long range with only two three-pointers for the first 17 minutes. Getting dominated on the boards.
But the Wolverines tied the game at 28 with 1:39 to play. And then the trap door opened.
Two Louisville threes, an open-court foul called on Moe Wagner going for a steal all in the final 1:10 changed the entire mood.
Louisville went to halftime with its largest lead of the game at 36-28 and, trailing at the half for the first time since the Northwestern game, Michigan was facing a climb to reach the Sweet 16.
But the magic was still there.
Kansas City, here they come.
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Contact Mark Snyder: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mark__snyder.
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