NCAA Bring on the Sweet 16 Michigan Wolverines vs Tennessee Volunteers
The second day of the Sweet 16 kicks off on Friday night when the Michigan Wolverines will battle the Tennessee Volunteers in the Midwest Region semi-finals of the NCAA Tournament . The game will be at 7:15 ET in Indianapolis, IN. Michigan enters the game as an at-large bid, going 27-8, en route to the regular season Big 10 title. They opened with wins over Wofford 57-40, and Texas 79-65. Tennessee was an at-large bid out of the Southeast Conference, where they were 24-12. They are already 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament, beating Iowa in OT in the first round, then beating Massachusetts 86-67, before ousting Mercer 83-63.
The Wolverines have been led by G NIk Stauskas and F Glenn Robinson III. Stauskas has averaged 16 ppg and 4.5 apg, through the first 2 games of the NCAA Tournament. Robinson III has averaged 12.5 and 6 rpg. The contribution of F Jordan Morgan also cannot be missed. He has averaged 12.5 ppg and has 10 rpg. He has dominated the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds in each game. The Wolverines have played a smothering defense, holding Wofford to 34 percent shooting and Texas to just over 37 percent.
The Volunteers struggled to beat Iowa, but since then, have won by an average of 19.5 games, in the NCAA Tournament. They are led by G Jordan McRae, G Josh Richardson, and F Jarnell Stokes. McCrae has averaged 18.6 ppg through the first three games, while Stokes has averaged 15.2 ppg and 10.7 rpg. Richardson has added 19.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.3 apg. The Volunteers have not played dominating defense, as all three opponents have had shooting percentages better than 41 percent against them, and have not generated a lot of steals (averaging 5 per game), but they have controlled the flow of the game, and dominated early, especially on the boards.
Keys for Michigan to Win: The Wolverines have four guys scoring in double digits. Staukas is on a roll now, and looks unstoppable. He can score and moves the ball well. For Michigan to be successful they must play 40 minutes of basketball. If they allow the Volunteers to come out and dominate the game, they will be done. This is a team that can score, and they can run, but if it is a game of trying to control the boards, then the Volunteers have the clear advantage. The Wolverines have shot over 40 percent from 3 point range, and if Staukas and Robinson III can continue their hot 3 point shooting, Michigan will win.
Keys for Tennessee to Win: The Volunteers are beasts on the glass, especially Stokes and Maymon. They are getting their teammates second and third shots, and this is demoralizing opponents. This team has three guys who are averaging at least 18 ppg, and that will be hard for the Wolverines to match. There may not be a team with a group of three better guys than the Volunteers right now. They win by crashing the boards. If they out muscle Michigan early and take a lead, they know how to crush a teams flow, and they can dominate this game.
Prediction: The smart money says that Michigan is the team to beat. They have been better all season, and played a tougher schedule. They are one of three Big 10 teams left in the NCAA Tournament, which shows what a tough schedule they play. Tennessee also comes from a league (the SEC) that placed 3 teams in the Sweet Sixteen, and since beating Iowa in OT, they have been dominating. The Wolverines should win this game, but I will go with the hot hand. Take the Volunteers, 75-72.
Commentary by Robert Pannier