CHICAGO — There’s just something about the Big Ten tournament that brings out the best in the Michigan basketball team.
It doesn’t seem to matter where the Wolverines are seeded or what the circumstances are. They always save their best for the conference tournament, and that was on display again Friday night.
Michigan put the clamps on an Iowa offense that had exploded the night before and showed crisp offensive execution at its own end to knock Iowa out of the tournament with a 74-53 victory in the final quarterfinal game of the day at the United Center.
It was the ninth straight win in the tournament for the Wolverines (27-5), who won it as the No. 5 seed last season and as the No. 8 the previous year even after their plane crashed as it was departing for the tournament.
They advance to the semifinals, where they will take on No. 7 seed Minnesota, which upset Purdue 75-73 Friday. No. 1 seed Michigan State will take on No. 4 Wisconsin in the other semifinal.
Iowa (22-11), which also was eliminated by Michigan last season, will now wait to see where it is placed in the NCAA tournament when the bracket is released Sunday evening.
The Hawkeyes made 12 3-point field goals in 23 attempts in an 83-62 victory over Illinois on Thursday but went almost the entire game without connecting from the outside Friday and finished 1 for 16 from beyond the arc. Walk-on Nico Hobbs finally banked in a 3 with a minute, 4 seconds remaining.
Iowa had made at least four 3s in every game this season.
"That clearly affected a lot of things for us," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "You have to give some credit to the opponent, but typically we're not going to be a team that goes 1 for 16. It changes the momentum shifts of the game."
Meanwhile, the Wolverines did pretty much anything they wanted to from an offensive standpoint.
Big Ten freshman of the year Ignas Brazdeikis led a balanced attack with 15 points with Isaiah Livers adding 13, Jon Teske 12, Jordan Poole 11 and Zavier Simpson 10. Simpson also handed out 11 assists and held Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon scoreless.
"The biggest thing for me was he gets 11 assists with only one turnover against a team that is changing defenses all the time," Michigan coach John Beilein said of Simpson. "And then Bohannon doesn't score, and that's his matchup. That's a heckuva day for a heckuva player."
The Hawkeyes, who shot 28.6 percent from the field in the second half and 35.6 for the game, got 14 points apiece from Tyler Cook and Luka Garza.
Michigan, which suffered a 74-59 loss to Iowa on Feb. 1, did not show any rust from not having played in six days as it made six of its first eight shots from the field and bolted to a 17-10 lead.
The Wolverines then cooled off and missed eight shots in a row, allowing the Hawkeyes to close to within a point at 18-17.
But Livers came off the bench to get the Wolverines going again, and they made nine of their last 12 shots of the first half, including four 3-pointers, to open a 40-27 halftime cushion. Michigan shot 50 percent from the field in the half and had only one turnover in the first 20 minutes.
"They're really good once they get the lead," McCaffery said. "Once they got the lead, they really executed well and really got up into our space."
The Hawkeyes began attacking the basket in the second half and forced the Wolverines into five fouls in the first 2:09 of the half. But Michigan countered with 3-pointers by Poole, Brazdeikis and Eli Brooks to extend the lead.
When Simpson led a 9-0 scoring run, the Michigan lead ballooned to 59-35 little more than six minutes into the half.
"It's just difficult to understand," Garza said. "Last night (against Illinois) we were so focused and executed so well. ... Then tonight, we couldn't get any 3s going but that's not an excuse. It was just a lack of execution."
The Hawkeyes did most of their damage inside in their previous win over Michigan and Bohannon said that was the plan again.
"We did a good job of following the game plan and going inside and trying to dominate down low," he said, "but it’s hard when you go 1 for 16 from 3. And we just didn’t get stops when we needed to."