The Michigan Wolverines squared off against the Texas A&M Aggies in a Sweet Sixteen matchup from Los Angeles. What was expected to be a close game between the 3 and 7 seed turned into a laugher. Michigan totally dismantled the Aggies with a 52-28 first-half blitz. When it was all said and done Michigan had five players in double figures, led by senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with 24.
Next up for Michigan is an Elite Eight matchup with 9-seeded Florida State. But before we talk about that matchup let’s take a look back at what we learned from Michigan’s victory over Texas A&M.
What We Learned
1. Michigan’s Defense Was Championship Level
John Beilein has long been known as an offensive guru, and for good reason. His system is masterful in exploiting mismatches, spreading the floor and shooting the three.
So it has been fascinating to watch this Michigan run start on the defensive end. Michigan entered the game as a top 5 KenPom defense and showed the rest of America what the Big Ten has known for three months. This team is really good on the defensive end.
The first half was when Michigan’s defensive prowess was on display. In it, the Wolverines forced Texas A&M into 10 turnovers and converted those into 15 points. The Aggies shot 37 percent from the field and 25 percent from three. Other than Tyler Davis’s eight points, no one else scored more than five.
It was a clinic that should put some worries to ease about Michigan’s ability to defend athleticism and size.
2. The Offense Returned
Not to be outdone, Michigan’s offense was pretty good too.
The Wolverines shot an incredible 61 percent from the field and had multiple 20-point scorers. Michigan made 14 three-pointers, with 10 of those coming in their first-half onslaught. The 99 points were the highest total since a November victory against Chaminade in Maui.
It was a welcomed sight after two NCAA Tournament games in which Michigan averaged 62.5 points per game on 39 percent shooting.
Looking ahead a bit, Michigan’s offense will look to continue its roll against a Florida State team that has length but isn’t particularly good on the defensive end. Coach Leonard Hamilton is known for his defense, but the Seminoles are just 44th in the country in defensive efficiency and give up a higher three-point percentage (36) than they shoot (35).
3. Michigan’s Path To The Championship Game Is Clear And It’s Very Doable
Looking a little deeper into Michigan’s path ahead, and there is not much to dislike.
As mentioned, the Wolverines will play Florida State on Saturday for a berth to the Final Four in San Antonio. The Seminoles can really score (81 points per game) and are lanky enough to disrupt you on defense. This was especially evident during their win against Gonzaga as Florida State recorded nine blocks. Still, Michigan will be favored in this game, and given the way they are playing, should win.
That would leave a Final Four matchup against either Kansas State or cinderella Loyola. Expect them to be favored in this game as well.
Still much to be done from now until a championship game next Monday, but Michigan has the NCAA Tournament bracket breaks and now the play to see a clear path to a second championship game appearance in six seasons. What a turnaround for a team that was 7-3 at the start of December.