On the heels of the last second heroics typified by march madness, sending the bewildered Houston Cougars home with an off-kilter strike from deep, the Michigan Wolverines dismantled the Texas A&M Aggies, 99-75. No buzzer beaters or walk off baskets, simply a steady, jaw dropping barrage from three and slashing, acrobatic shots at the rim.
From the jump everything came up maize and blue - from a turn style of Michigan scoring bolstered by a blistering 58 percent from deep, to a smattering of Moritz Wagner tongue throughout the TBS broadcast.
“We shot the ball really well in the first half obviously,” coach John Beilein said postgame. “14 assists and one turnover in the first half. Just really proud of the way we played to win over a good team.”
Michigan sliced into the heart of the Texas A&M 2-3 zone, and the Aggies remained unwilling to adjust. The proceedings left Kevin Harlan accurately noting the Wolverines were “almost scoring with impunity.”
Early on, a frenetic, undisciplined offense from A&M played right into the hands of the strong Wolverine defense. Shots missed, sure, but the Aggies coughed up the ball 13 times leading to 20 points in the other direction.
Despite the success of Texas A&M’s front court against their physically under matched counterparts, Michigan was able to counter with quickness and athleticism. Wagner finished with 21 points and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman lead the way with 24, matriculating through the lane and hitting countless circus shots in the paint.
“I think we’re a very confident team, and I think that’s all that matters,” Wagner said. “We’ve been playing within ourselves all year and not looking at the opponent too much. Looking at the game plan, trying to execute that and I think we’ve been believing all year that we can beat anyone if we play our best basketball.”
To Texas A&M’s credit, the second half was a much better representation of their success this season, and they essentially went shot for shot with Michigan. But losing by nearly 25 at half was too much to overcome, as the Aggies dropped the deficit below 20 just once, and only for the length of a possession.
Ultimately, it was a complete Aggie beat down, as the game was an actual contest for a mere four minutes after tip. The occasion was obviously joyous for Michigan fans, and likely Big Ten fans at large, however the rest of the country was treated to an hour and a half yawn.
So, the Beilein March mythology rolls on, picking up strength with each passing season. Consecutive Big Ten Tournament runs have accompanied an even more impressive NCAA Tournament streak, as Michigan is making its third Elite Eight appearance in six seasons.
Michigan advances to take on Florida State Saturday. If the Wolverines manage to come out with the same infernal shooting hand they displayed tonight, another blood bath may be in the works.