Michigan Basketball: NCAA Tournament preview

The Michigan Wolverines (25-8, 15-3) are the #2 seed in the Midwest Region and will begin their quest for an NCAA Championship on Thursday win they play the #15 seed Wofford (20-12, 11-5). The game will be played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Tip is scheduled for 7:10pm (EST) and the game will be televised on CBS.

What’s up with Wofford?

michigan basketball

Nik Stauskas

The Wofford Terriers finished in third place in the Southern Conference. They earned their spot in the dance by winning their conference tournament. They are led by a pair of sophomore guards; Karl Cochran (15.7 ppg,) and Spencer Collins (12.8 ppg).

Michigan will crush Wofford because the Terriers rank 308th nationally in turnovers and the Wolverines feast on points off turnovers. Wofford doesn’t rebound well (297th nationally) and they’re not a good free throw shooting team (284th nationally). They don’t have any of the necessary ingredients to pull an upset of this magnitude.

Fun Wofford fact of the day: One of their assistants is Darris Nichols, who played point guard for John Beilein at West Virginia.

Round of 32

Assuming Michigan dispatches Wofford on Thursday, they will move on to play the winner of Texas vs Arizona State on Saturday. I think that game is a toss up, but if forced to make a pick I would go with the Longhorns.

Texas is a very good defensive team with quality size. They could pose problems for Michigan, but I think the Wolverines will be too precise and too efficient for the Longhorns to pull the upset.

If Arizona State advances, they would be an interesting match up as well. Herb Sendek is a poor man’s John Beilein. However, the Sun Devils don’t have the firepower to hang with Michigan and prepping for the Wolverines on short notice will make it even more difficult for ASU or Texas for that matter.

Sweet 16

In the Sweet 16, Michigan would likely draw a rematch with Duke. The Wolverines lost to the Blue Devils in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge earlier this year. In that game, which was played at Duke, Michigan was still trying to find their rhythm and could not get anything going offensively.

If Duke was sent packing before the Sweet 16, Michigan would have a much easier draw against, Iowa, Tennessee, UMass, or Mercer.

Elite Eight

If the Wolverines advance to the Elite Eight, the odds are they would have yet another rematch. This time against Louisville, the team they lost to in last year’s National Championship game.

Wichita State is the #1 seed in the Midwest Region and they also have a bone to pick with Louisville, who knocked them out in the Final Four last year. I think it’s either the Shockers or Cardinals here.

Final Four

In the Final Four, Michigan would be matched up against whoever comes out of the West Region. The favorites there include another rematch scenario, this time against Arizona, who Michigan lost to at home in Mitch McGary’s final game of the season. In addition to the Wildcats, the West Region features Wisconsin, Creighton, San Diego State and Oklahoma.

Michigan is not one of the perceived favorites to win the National Championship, that honor, or curse, belongs to the Spartans of Michigan State. Don’t forget, though, the Wolverines started the season 6-4 and since then have been on a 19-4 run and they’ve done it against a very daunting schedule, as their strength of schedule is ranked 10th nationally.

The Wolverines have all the necessary components that are needed to make a return trip to the Final Four.

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  • Robert White

    Let the games begin.

  • Dan

    Don’t like the matchups. Michigan is too thin on the front line. Not going to happen this year.

  • Craig Coxen

    Let the three pointers drop.

  • J & D Fuller

    This is always so exciting!