CHICAGO — Michigan’s season came to an appropriately deflating end Thursday afternoon, amid a faint backdrop of “NIT” chants from an otherwise sleepy crowd. In a must-win game, the Wolverines lived a slow and painful demise, one missed shot at a time — eventually accumulating in a 62-50 loss to a scuffling Rutgers team.
“I would say ‘good afternoon’ to everyone, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a good afternoon for us,” Juwan Howard remarked to open his postgame press conference.
Alongside him sat Hunter Dickinson and Kobe Bufkin, their faces long.
In many ways, the game authored a perfect portrayal of the team Michigan proved itself to be throughout the season. Rutgers, scrappy and tenacious, is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Michigan, replete with individual pieces that never quite gelled, is the opposite.
“I felt we pressed a little bit too much as far as trying to make ‘the’ play individually,” Howard said, when asked how the game unraveled. “… Please, do not get this wrong. Do not think that I am blaming anyone. I’m just saying, overall as a team, we could have done a better job of just being patient and making the simple play.”