INDIANAPOLIS – What the Big Ten needed was someone, anyone, to start playing like it came from the Big Ten.
Thanks to Michigan, the conference is still part of March Madness.
Longer, taller and deeper than LSU, the top-seeded Wolverines slowly wore down the Tigers. They got 21 points each from Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown Jr., in a roller-coaster 86-78 victory that salvaged some hope for the hurting conference at the NCAA Tournament.
By the time coach Juwan Howard and Co. had returned to the hotel after their second-round game, Maryland had lost to Alabama, leaving the Wolverines as the only ones remaining of the nation-leading nine Big Ten teams who came to Indy.
And though they can't undo what's happened to the rest of the conference, that Big Ten seasoning came in handy in this one — a game Michigan (22-4) trailed in by nine early and had to fight to stay in range.
“That's the test of the Big Ten, honestly,” Brooks said. “We get tested every night.”
In a game full of big runs, the Wolverines used the biggest -- 14-1 over the decisive stretch midway through the second half -- to pull away and save face for a conference that has otherwise tanked these four days in Indianapolis.
The Wolverines moved on to their fourth straight Sweet 16, where they'll play No. 4 Florida State next weekend. They'll represent the only chance left for a conference that has lost everyone, from No. 1 seed (Illinois), to No. 2 Ohio State, all the way down to 11th-seeded Michigan State, a perennial power that went out in the play-in round.