ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Nik Stauskas scored 21 points and Glenn Robinson III provided an emotional lift with his dunks as No. 16 Michigan clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title with a 66-56 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.
The Wolverines (21-7, 13-3) didn’t arrive at the Crisler Center expecting to have a chance to earn their third banner in three years, but Illinois changed that by upsetting Michigan State in East Lansing.
Michigan can clinch its first outright conference title since 1986 with a win Tuesday at Illinois or next Saturday at home against Indiana.
Caris LeVert added 13 points for Michigan, and Jordan Morgan had 10 rebounds. The Crisler Center crowd wasn’t told about Michigan State’s loss until after the game ended.
Austin Hollins led Minnesota (18-12, 7-10) with 16 points. Andre Hollins had 10 on 3-of-10 shooting.
Michigan won a share of the Big Ten crown in 2012 and went to the national championship game last season. The last time the Wolverines hung banners in three straight seasons was 1964-66, when a group led by Cazzie Russell won three consecutive Big Ten titles and went to two Final Fours.
Minnesota got off to a quick start, leading 15-9 midway through the first half, but the Wolverines started hitting open jumpers and the Golden Gophers committed seven first-half turnovers.
Michigan needed less than 4 minutes to take the lead and pushed the advantage to 31-20 when Stauskas sandwiched two alley-oops to Robinson around his third 3-pointer of the half.
The Wolverines still weren’t at their sharpest in the second half, and Minnesota was able to cut the deficit to 44-41 with 10 minutes to play.
Consecutive jumpers by Morgan and Stauskas gave Michigan a 58-52 lead with 2:58 left. Spike Albrecht made two free throws, and Minnesota’s Elliot Eliason was called for a foul. That gave Morgan two more free throws, and he hit one to make it 61-52.
Albrecht drained a 3-pointer on the next possession, giving the Wolverines a 10-point lead, and they were able to close it out with ease.
Fittingly, Michigan locked up its share of the conference title on the same day the school saluted the 25th anniversary of the program’s only national championship. Glenn Rice and Terry Mills led most of the players from the 1988-89 team onto the court for a standing ovation during a first-half timeout, but there were two important names missing.
Coach Steve Fisher sent his regrets, but was busy coaching San Diego State on Saturday night, and point guard Rumeal Robinson is in prison in Louisiana. Robinson, who clinched the championship-game win over Seton Hall with two free throws with 3 seconds left in overtime, is serving a 6 1/2-year sentence for bank fraud.