Michigan Basketball (28-8) will play Kentucky (27-10) in the Elite Eight on Sunday afternoon. Tip is scheduled for 5:05pm (EST) and the game will be televised on CBS.
Kentucky is the youngest team in the country and they also have as much raw talent as any team in the country. The advanced to the Elite Eight by coming back from a 13 point deficit to knock off the defending champions from Louisville.
The Wildcats will likely be without the services of Willie Cauley-Stein who suffered an ankle injury in the Louisville game. Freshman forward Julius Randle is an absolute beast. He leads the country with 23 double-doubles this season and has accomplished that feat in all three of Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament wins.
Freshman guard Aaron Harrison is averaging 17.3 points per game in the postseason. His twin brother Andrew has dished out a team-high 26 assists in the postseason.
Kentucky factoid: The Wildcats rank second in the nation in offensive rebounding
Michigan among the Elite
Michigan is in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season and the 13th time in school history. The Wolverines are 7-4 all-time in the Elite Eight.
Michigan advanced by surviving a furious Tennessee run late in the their Sweet 16 matchup. In their last two tournament wins, over Texas and Tennessee, the Wolverines have put on offensive clinics in the first halves and then hung on as the Longhorns and Vols chipped away at their respective deficits. In order to march on to the Final Four, Michigan will need to put together two halves of outstanding basketball.
Through three games in the tournament, Michigan is shooting 49% from the field and 49.2% from beyond the arc. The Wolverines are turning the ball over 9.3 times per game and they have dished out 45 assists on 73 made field goals, which is good for a 61.6% assist rate, which is really good.
Michigan is a balanced group, Nik Stauskas can devastate a team with his array of offensive skills, Caris LeVert is a lightning quick player who can strike quickly and in a variety of different ways, Glenn Robinson III can soar above the rim, but has also become more assertive offensively, Derrick Walton is quick, can knock down a big shot and has a knack for hauling down big rebounds, Zak Irvin can bury triples in bunches, Spike Albrecht is a heady point guard off the bench who doesn’t turn the ball over and can, of course, shoot the three. However, the key to their success has been the play of their lone senior.
Jordan Morgan has played in a school record 141 games and isn’t ready to end his career just yet. He notched double-doubles in the first two games of the tournament. He then scored a season-high 15 points and induced a game-winning charge in the closing seconds of Michigan’s victory over the Vols. For the tournament, Morgan is averaging 13.3 points and 9 rebounds. He’s also shooting 68.2% from the field and 83.3% from the free throw line.
Michigan factoid: The Wolverines have four players averaging double digits in scoring during the NCAA Tournament; Nik Stauskas (15.3), Glenn Robinson III (13.6), Jordan Morgan (13.3) and Caris LeVert (10.0).
Once again, Michigan seems to be the trendy pick to be upset. There is no doubt Kentucky is playing well and like Tennessee and Texas before them, they will have a size advantage in the paint. However, the loss of Cauley-Stein does, somewhat, negate that advantage.
Michigan has been shooting the lights out in the tournament and they have the athletes to match up with Kentucky. Glenn Robinson III could be a huge factor in this game and don’t expect another 5-12 shooting performance from Nik Stauskas.
This has all the makings of a very close game. When it comes down to it, I’ll go with John Beilein and the Wolverines to come out on top.
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