ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Cody Zeller made a go-ahead layup with 13 seconds left and altered Trey Burke’s shot at the other end, lifting No. 2 Indiana to a 72-71 victory over No. 7 Michigan on Sunday that gave the Hoosiers their first outright Big Ten title in two decades.
The Hoosiers (26-5, 14-4) trailed by five points in the last minute but took advantage when the Wolverines (25-6, 12-6) were unable to seal it at the foul line. Jordan Morgan had a fairly easy tip-in attempt of Burke’s miss that cut have won it for Michigan, but the ball rolled tantalizingly off the rim and Indiana’s Christian Watford grabbed the rebound with 4 seconds left.
A couple of Michigan’s rivals surely wish the Wolverines had won.
Ohio State, which beat Illinois on Sunday, needed an Indiana loss to earn a share of the conference championship. Michigan State was in the same position before hosting Northwestern later in the day.
Morgan made a tiebreaking putback with 1:35 left, teammate Tim Hardaway followed with a layup on the Wolverines’ next possession and Glen Robinson III made the first of two free throws with 52 seconds to go, giving the Wolverines a 71-66 lead.
After Zeller made a shot on the ensuing possession, Hardaway missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Zeller then connected on two free throws and Burke couldn’t convert at the line, missing the front end of another haunting 1-and-1.
Zeller hit another big shot down low, the one that counted most in a game Indiana might have needed to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Hoosiers will be the top-seeded team at this week’s Big Ten tournament in Chicago.
Burke and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, both of whom are Big Ten and national player of the year candidates, struggled to make shots all game at Crisler Center.
Zeller, meanwhile, made sure no one forgot about him.
The 7-foot sophomore center altered Burke’s shot in the lane and was ready to celebrate when Morgan’s tip attempt rolled off.
Fittingly, the Big Ten title didn’t come easy for the Hoosiers.
Zeller scored 25 points and pulled down rebounds. Oladipo had 14 points on 7-of-18 shooting and 13 rebounds. Will Sheehey scored 10 points, six of which came on key 3-pointers.
Burke scored 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting. Robinson had 13 points, Nik Stauskas scored 12 and Hardaway had 11. The Wolverines 7 of 13 at the line.
Indiana, looking as though it didn’t want to give any other team a piece of the Big Ten championship, got off to a strong start and led 10-3 when Yogi Ferrell’s field goal followed a pair of 3-pointers from Jordan Hulls.
The Wolverines took control in the first half with a 12-0 run, but faded toward halftime and led 33-30 after 20 minutes.
Michigan led by as many as 11 points — matching the biggest lead any team has had against the Hoosiers — and looked as though it was going to be on the winning end of a closely contested game until it simply could not make key free throws or stop Zeller.