Zavier Simpson led on both ends of the floor, running Michigan’s efficient offense and anchoring its lockdown defense, and the backup big man Jon Teske scored 14 points as the 15th-ranked Wolverines beat No. 8 Purdue, 75-66, on Sunday to win their second straight Big Ten tournament title.
Fifth-seeded Michigan (28-7) became the first team to repeat as the tournament champions since Ohio State did so in 2010 and 2011.
Simpson finished with 10 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, and Moritz Wagner led Michigan with 17 points, despite playing just 17 minutes because of foul trouble — an issue that plagued him all tournament. Wagner still emerged with the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award.
Fortunately for Michigan, Teske stepped up. A 7-foot-1 sophomore, Teske scored 12 points in the first half and picked up the slack guarding Purdue’s 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas.
Simpson and Teske put an exclamation point on Michigan’s four-day party at Madison Square Garden with 6 minutes 2 seconds left. Simpson drove and dished to Teske cutting to the basket. Teske, or Big Bad Jon, as his teammates call him, finished over Haas and let out a roar while chest-bumping teammates on his way to the bench.
“I was so happy when he popped off after that dunk,” Wagner said. “I got so excited. He got emotional. Yeah, I know how good he is. That was long overdue.”
The dunk extended the Wolverines’ lead to 66-48 and brought chants of “Tes-key!” from the Michigan fans, who showed up in droves for the first Big Ten Tournament played in New York.
That was a blast, especially being here in New York City with all those Michigan fans that traveled from great distances, or whoever lived here,” Teske said.
Purdue (28-6) chipped away late, as Michigan missed a slew of free throws, but it was much too late.
Haas led Purdue with 23 points, but Purdue’s top-two scorers, Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards, combined for only 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting.
“He had a couple of drives that didn’t go down for him, and he had a couple of 3s where he could never get back-to-back pullups or back-to-back pull-up 3s to get into that rhythm,” Purdue Coach Matt Painter said.
This Michigan team has been Coach John Beilein’s best defensively since he took over in Ann Arbor in 2007. Simpson, the sophomore point guard harassing opponents’ best ballhandlers, has been crucial to that success. The Wolverines seemed content to let Haas have some room inside as long as they were able to limit Purdue’s 3-pointers.
Purdue entered the game shooting 42 percent from 3-point range and attempting 23 per game. The Boilermakers finished 4 for 17 from behind the arc.
On consecutive possessions early in the second half, the Wolverines forced turnovers by Purdue and turned them in transition 3-pointers — one by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and then by Simpson. That put Michigan up 11 with 15:06 left, prompted Boilermakers Painter to call a timeout and drew calls of “Go Blue!” from the Wolverine fans.
“He’s a pit bull,” Beilein said of Simpson. “We have a picture of a big, mean pit bull in our locker room for every game. And he’s that guy. He’s the one that loves to play defense.”
Michigan, playing its fourth game in four days, showed no signs of wear, shooting 50 percent and committing five turnovers.
Last season’s unlikely run to the tournament championship by Michigan was as an eighth seed, and it started with a plane accident near Ann Arbor. The team’s plane skidded off a runway after takeoff was aborted. No one was hurt, but everyone was shaken up. Still, the team got to Washington and ripped off four straight wins to win a berth in the N.C.A.A. tournament. It advanced to the Round of 16 before losing to Oregon.