Moe Wagner on Michigan Miracle at 2018 NCAA Tournament: ‘Sports is effed up, it’s crazy’

WICHITA, Kan. — Deep down — beneath all that maroon and gold and the Gryffindor scarves — you wonder if maybe Sister Jean is a Michigan fan, too.

Because something’s happening here.

Something we can’t quite explain with logic, let alone math.

Consider this: Before the final 24 seconds of Michigan-Houston at the 2018 NCAA Tournament late Saturday night, Devin Davis had put up an 8 for 8 line from the free-throw stripe.

The senior forward had drained 21 of his last 26 attempts (80.8 percent) in the month of March, when every free throw takes on a potential life of its own. He’d knocked down 32 of his last 38 (84.2 percent) dating back to February 1.

Cougars up 1 with 24 ticks left. Davis misfires on 1 of 2.

Cougars up 2 with 4 ticks left. Davis whiffs twice.

Y’all know the rest of the story.

Something’s going on,” Michigan center Moe Wagner told Land of 10 early Sunday morning after Jordan Poole’s prayer gave the Wolverines a 64-63 win and shot them into the Sweet 16. “But this is sports, man.

“Like, sports is effed up, it’s crazy. You know it is. It’s true. In emotional moments like that, I can say that. That’s why people watch it. That’s why people love it. That’s why we play it.”

Something’s happening here.

Eleven wins in a row ain’t luck. Although during a streak, luck is always has a seat at the table.

It’s more than that.

There’s a mojo. A looseness. An ease.

A swagger, less the holier-than-thou kind and more the we’re-having-too-much-damn-fun-together-for-this-to-end kind.

The Wolverines locker room is full of cut-ups and contrasting personalities, the bubbly types such as Poole, Wagner and Isaiah Livers mixing with the quieter Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson and Zavier Simpson. It takes all kinds. Especially when the chips are down.

You can scheme all you want for a shot like the one that’s taking Michigan to Los Angeles. But if you’re tight, if you let the moment ride your back, all the planning and prep in the world goes right out a 12th-story window. And you won’t be playing either North Carolina or Texas A&M next Thursday in La La Land.

“Oh, yeah. I believe in karma, a little bit,” Wagner said. Then he grinned. “But I’m not trying to let that get to me too much.”

Something’s happening here.

A reporter pointed out that the Wolverines, after shooting 13 for 46 (28.3 percent) from beyond the arc over a pair of tilts in Wichita and turning it over an average of 11 times, haven’t even played close to their best basketball during the first two rounds of the Big Dance.

“Oh yeah,” Wagner acknowledged with a nod. “Coach [John] Beilein just said that. Like it’s scary, you know, [scoring] 64 points, that’s nothing. Defensively, if we stop fouling, we might keep them even lower.

“We’ve got to understand: We are blessed that [Davis] missed 2 free throws. We are very blessed.”


Something’s happening here.

Something we can’t explain with a straight face. How else do you rationalize, with 6 seconds left, Abdur-Rahkman missing an open layup he’s made 999 times out of 1,000?

“It’s crazy,” Michigan’s senior guard chuckled. “It seems our best shooters on the team miss wide-open shots over and over again. People are air-balling things like … you’re just wondering when you’re going to catch a break.

“But you’ve got to stay with it. It’s not all about offense. [If] we continue to play defense, it keeps us in the game. And, eventually, down the stretch, we made a play.”

They made a miracle. From 25-plus feet.


A blessing?

“I mean, you tell me,” Abdur-Rahkman replied with a grin. “You make a shot like that, when it looked like it was over, and … hey. It seems like we are blessed.”

Sweetly blessed. Irrationally blessed. UMBC blessed.

“It’s crazy, like all these teams are being upset,” Livers said. “It’s insane.

“I didn’t want to be one of those guys, though, honestly. It’s tough, but Coach B tells us not to [think about the negative.] He said, ‘I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want to go out like that.’ I don’t know quite the exact words. His meaning was, he doesn’t want to go home yet.”

Something’s happening here. Something you ride, laughing, as long as the fates allow.

The post Moe Wagner on Michigan Miracle at 2018 NCAA Tournament: ‘Sports is effed up, it’s crazy’ appeared first on Land of 10.

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