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Rutgers keeps NCAA Tournament hopes alive, takes down Michigan in Big Ten Tournament

The Scarlet Knights will take on top-seeded Purdue on Friday.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Second Round - Michigan vs Rutgers Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers and Michigan finally got a chance to play the game that never was.

In 2020, both teams were pulled off the court in the same matchup during the Big Ten Tournament as sports around the nation began to shut down due to the pandemic. On Thursday, the two got a chance to meet in the 8-9 matchup once again.

It might have been ugly but Rutgers may have gotten the win it needed.

Entering the tournament, both Rutgers and Michigan needed a victory to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The Scarlet Knights used a big second half to secure a 62-50 victory over Michigan in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago.

Rutgers will take on top-seeded Purdue on Friday at Noon PM ET. This is just the second all-time victory for Rutgers against Michigan in 16 attempts.

An ugly offensive start but Rutgers (19-12, 10-10) in a hole early, shooting just 29% from the field and 1-for-9 from three-point range in the first half.

Rutgers did not score its first points until the game was four minutes old. It fell in a 7-0 hole but Michigan did not have offensive consistency outside of Hunter Dickinson. The big man scored 24 points while the rest of the team finished with 26.

In the postseason, it is all about adjustments — and knocking down some shots.

Rutgers outscored Michigan 37-22 in the second half while the Wolverines shot just 4-for-21 over the final 20 minutes. The Scarlet Knights used a 12-0 run to build a double-digit lead in the second half while Michigan missed 19-of-23 to begin the second half.

All eight players who logged minutes for Rutgers scored in the win, led by 18 points from Cam Spencer. Derek Simpson was inserted into the starting lineup for just the fourth time this season and totaled 13 points.

A win on Friday puts Rutgers into the NCAA Tournament. Even with a loss, the Scarlet Knights have a chance to remain in the field, even if a First Four appearance is on the horizon once again. Either way, Selection Sunday is going to continue the tradition of being a sweat for the Scarlet Knights.