Michigan Basketball (27-8) will face Tennessee (24-12) in a Sweet 16 match up on Friday. Tip is scheduled for 7:15pm and the game will be televised on CBS.
Tennessee knocked Iowa out in a First Four game before rolling past UMass and Mercer to advance to the Sweet 16. The Vols have won eight of their last nine games and are led by three players averaging double digits in scoring; Jordan McRae (18.6), Jarnell Stokes (15.2) and Josh Richardson (10.1). Stokes has been in beast mode during the NCAA Tournament. He comes in averaging 20.3 points and 15 rebounds in the Vols three wins. Stokes is tied for the Division 1 lead in double-doubles with 22 this season.
Tennessee has been playing strong defense of late, holding opponents to 54 points per game in their last eight contests. They are also shooting the ball well in the big dance; 82.8% free throws and 49.1% from the field. Their starting line up, in direct contrast to Michigan’s, is all upperclassmen – three seniors and two juniors.
Tennessee Tidbit: Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin played at Purdue and was 3-5 against the Wolverines in his career. He also roomed with Glenn Robinson III’s father, Glenn Robinson, for two years while at Purdue.
The Wolverines also enter this game on a roll, having won nine of their last ten games. In what John Beilein described as their best half of basketball this season, the Wolverines put on an offensive clinic in the opening stanza against Texas on Saturday. In that game, Michigan set a school record for an NCAA Tournament game by connecting on 14 three pointers and they turned the ball over just four times.
Tennessee is not unlike a Big Ten team, they have two big bodies to bang in the paint and they have good quickness on the perimeter. It seems likely that the Vols will win the rebounding battle, but don’t count out Jordan Morgan. Michigan’s lone senior has posted back-to-back double-doubles in the tournament and nullified the size advantage that the Longhorns were hoping to exploit on Saturday.
Michigan, of course, has the Big Ten Player of the Year in Nik Stauskas and he has been sensational. He scored 17 points and dished out a career-high eight assists against Texas. Caris LeVert has been steady all year and is a multi-faceted player. However, the difference maker for the Wolverines will likely be Glenn Robinson III. The sophomore has been playing very well of late and his athleticism and versatility will be a handful for the Vols. The key for Robinson is to attack the rim and contribute on the glass. When he does that, Michigan becomes that much more difficult for opposing teams to handle.
Michigan Tidbit: Michigan is 7-1 all-time in Sweet 16 games, the 2nd-best record in the round (min. 5 games).
Both teams have been playing well defensively and neither turn the ball over very often. However, Tennessee has yet to face a team quite like the Wolverines. Michigan is the best offensive team still playing in the tournament. Their precision and efficiency will ultimately prove to be the difference in this game.
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