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Michigan basketball had a very bad week before an amazing run to Big Ten tournament title

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The Wolverines tore through the Big Ten tournament. What makes it even more incredible is everything they went through before the tournament even started.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Minnesota Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan was far and away the best story of Championship Week. The Wolverines took out Minnesota on Saturday and won the Big Ten tournament title hours before the bracket reveal on Selection Sunday. Michigan is playing its best basketball of the season heading into the NCAA tournament, and that’s even more amazing when you consider what the team had to go through to get there.

Michigan had a rough start to tournament week. Before the Wolverines played their first game of the 2017 Big Ten tournament, travel problems, scheduling issues, and even a uniform mix-up has complicated what should otherwise have been a routine trip to Washington, DC for the conference championship.

Since Michigan’s gone through a lengthy series of unfortunate events already this week, here’s a timeline of the Wolverines’ disaster of a Big Ten tournament trip.

Wednesday morning: high winds cause power outage at Michigan’s practice facility

In what would later prove to be ominous weather conditions, high winds across southeast Michigan on Wednesday caused a power outage at the Wolverines’ practice facilities in Ann Arbor, preventing the team from going through workouts in the lead up to their conference tournament appearance. But the team was far from the end of their wind-caused foul-ups for that day.

Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. ET: Michigan’s plane is blown off the runway

On Wednesday afternoon, as the team was on a Willow Run, Mich. runway set to take off, high winds as strong as 66 miles per hour blasted through southeastern Michigan, wiping out power to one million residents. The winds were so strong that they scuttled the team’s plane off the runway, forcing players and staff to leap from the exit door, sources told SB Nation.

Second Team All Big Ten point guard Derrick Walton, Jr. even suffered a cut that required multiple stitches, and one passenger was quoted as saying, "That pilot undoubtedly saved our lives.” Further, MLive provides this harrowing scene:

“U-M head coach John Beilein oversaw much of the deboarding ... Beilein had fuel on his face as he helped hold down the inflatable chutes. Once everyone deboarded, he checked with each person individually.”

That was just Wednesday.

Thursday, 8:51 a.m. ET: Michigan touches down in D.C.

A little before 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, the team finally touched down in D.C., a mere three hours before their scheduled noon tip-off with Illinois. The uncertainty only multiplied from there, though, as whispers of moving the game’s start time back emerged at 10:30 a.m. ET, 90 minutes before Michigan was set to play. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel told BTN that one staff member elected not to make the trip.

Wolverine guard Austin Hatch, who’s amazingly survived two plane crashes, traveled with the team on Thursday morning. Hatch was not on the flight that was blown off the runway.

Thursday, 10:45 a.m. ET: Big Ten quarantines media from Michigan players and staff

As the Wolverines entered the Verizon Center in D.C., media were promptly cordoned off from speaking to any players, coaches, or staff. Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman and his counterpart at Michigan apparently met with conference higher-ups around this time, in advance of a postponement announcement.

Thursday, 11 a.m. ET: Michigan’s game is postponed 20 minutes

Just before 11 a.m. ET, the Big Ten announced that, instead of swapping the Wolverines’ session with a later one in the evening, their game was being pushed back ... by 20 minutes. So: a precarious air travel incident, an early morning flight on the day of a second-round conference tournament tilt, and an amended start time of negligible effect.

Michigan’s staff requested that the team play the early Thursday game, and the other conference teams on the schedule for that day had agreed to be as accommodating as possible, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz.

Thursday, 11:56 a.m., ET: Michigan’s game is further postponed eight minutes.

So not 20 minutes, but 28 minutes. Sure, why not.

Thursday, 12:28 p.m. ET: Michigan tips off against Illinois wearing practice jerseys

Having finally arrived at D.C.’s Verizon Center, and having been quickly ushered away from anyone wearing a media badge, and having been notified of a 20-minute, then 28-minute delay, Michigan took the court wearing practice gear. Why? All of their live-game equipment was back in Willow Run, sitting in the belly of an airplane that was windblown off a runway on Wednesday afternoon. The FAA, which investigates such incidents, requires that all luggage, equipment, and other sundry items remain on the plane while the agency investigates incidents of this sort.

Oh yeah, the betting line on the game moved because of this fiasco

The Wolverines opened as 6.5-point favorites, but the spread tightened to 4.5 on Wednesday morning. Of course it did.

That the Wolverines arrived safely and played at all is a very good thing, and they’ll certainly recall this memorable Big Ten tournament for the rest of their lives.


Sunday: Michigan will play for Big Ten tournament title

There’s only one step left. What a run it has been for Michigan.