Sports

Michigan’s Moritz Wagner Is a Terrifying Basketball Monster

Mar 31, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Moritz Wagner (13) reacts with teammates Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (12) and Charles Matthews (1) after falling into the press table in the second half in the semifinals of the 2018 men's Final Four at Alamodome.
Mo Wagner is all smiles as the Wolverines punch their ticket to the title game.
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella—called Aschenputtel in German—has the kind of gruesome violence you’d expect from the macabre duo. When the glass slipper doesn’t fit, toes are cut off, and doves poke out the stepsisters’ eyes during the climatic wedding scene. It makes sense, then, that a German would author such a grisly end to March Madness’ own Cinderella story.

Michigan big man Moritz Wagner ended the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers’ amazing run in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Saturday with a Final Four performance for the ages. The Berlin-born Wagner scored 24 points and pulled down 15 huge rebounds to lead the Wolverines to a 69-57 victory.

The margin of victory flatters Michigan, who were sluggish and out-of-sorts for the entire first half. The Ramblers’ constant switching on defense confused the Wolverines, who shot 29 percent from the field in that frame. Michigan’s best offense was to chuck up bricks and hope Wagner could convert the put-back. It wasn’t pretty, and they went into the locker room down 29-22.

Wagner played relatively well in the first half—he and a series of missed Ramblers layups were the sole reason the deficit was only seven—but he raised his game for the second. While his teammates decided to show up after halftime, his aforementioned offensive rebounding was key throughout.

If dominating inside weren’t enough, Wagner also found time to spread the floor. He went three-for-seven from deep on a cold shooting night for both teams. (Michigan went 25 percent from three and Loyola-Chicago only managed to shoot a paltry 10 percent.)

Oh, and he also made an impromptu visit to the broadcast team in the middle of the game, breaking Bill Raftery’s glasses in the process.

It was a well-rounded and ruthless performance from Wagner, and he delivered a very German ending to the Ramblers’ Cinderella run. It wasn’t enough for their carriage to turn into a pumpkin—he had to smash it to bits as well.