Isaiah Livers was the last to cut down a piece of the net. He’d thought about this moment, put it on his “checklist,” he said, when he returned to Ann Arbor for his senior season. When it came, he had already been subbed out for walk-ons, getting on his hands and doing a push-up, kissing the block ‘M’ at midcourt.
Two years ago at the Breslin Center, he watched, sullen, as Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins did the same, stealing a Big Ten title out from under the Wolverines. He told himself he’d kiss the court on Thursday, win or lose.
After a win, though, it was much sweeter.
“I sweat on it, I fall on it,” he said. “I’ve got to brush my teeth tonight, though.”
That moment in 2019 rolled through Eli Brooks’s mind this week. Michigan left East Lansing before Michigan State left the floor that night, a juxtaposition of a team falling apart with one finding itself. “To be able to return the favor to them, it means a lot,” Brooks said. The seniors didn’t talk about it going into Thursday. They didn’t need to. Michigan, now, is the team playing as one at the end of the regular season.