With a wild 92-91 victory over Oklahoma State on Friday and a thrilling 73-69 win over the No. 2-seeded Louisville Cardinals on Sunday, Michigan Basketball (26-11) has advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last five seasons.
The Wolverines won those two games in two very different ways, with the one common theme being tremendous shooting. Against the Cowboys, Michigan lit it up from beyond the arc as they tied a Big Ten record with 16 three pointers in a NCAA Tournament game. They also shot an absurd 11-15 from three point range in the second half. In the win, Derrick Walton became the second player in Big Ten history with 25 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in an NCAA tournament game (Magic Johnson 1979).
Against the Cardinals, Michigan erased an eight point halftime deficit by abandoning the long ball and hitting 17 of 27 shots from inside the arc. After the game, Louisville forward Deng Adel said, “They shot 63 percent from the field in the second half, which is unheard of against us.” Michigan attempted just six three balls in the second half, making three of them.
In the win over Louisville, Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and shot 79 percent (11-14), joining Chris Webber (two times) and Glen Rice as Wolverines who have scored 25 points on 75 percent shooting in the last 30 NCAA tournaments.
With less than 30 seconds to play in the game against Louisville, DJ Wilson converted 4 of 4 free throws to seal the victory for the Wolverines. This came after he connected on 2 of 2 free throws with under five seconds left to seal Michigan’s win over Oklahoma State on Friday.
Speaking of DJ Wilson, he has been outstanding in Michigan’s first two games of the tournament. Against Oklahoma State he scored 19 points, hauled down five rebounds and blocked four shots. In the Louisville game he scored 17 points to go along with two rebounds and three blocks. He is also a perfect 10 of 10 from the free throw line.
Walton, Wagner and Wilson have been getting the headlines, but Michigan has also received key contributions from Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman along the way. Against Oklahoma State, Abdur-Rahkman scored 16 points and dished out four assists. Irvin also scored 16 against the Cowboys. The senior guard followed that up with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists against Louisville.
It has been a complete team effort from a group that is playing with great togetherness. The run will continue on Thursday night when Michigan takes on Oregon in Kansas City. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:09 PM (ET) and the game will be televised on CBS.
Odds and ends
In the second half of their tournament games this year, Michigan is shooting a combined 63% from the field and 67% from beyond the arc.
Through the first two games of the tournament, all five of Michigan’s starters are averaging double digits in scoring.
This is Michigan’s 14th Sweet 16 appearance. They are seeking their 14th Elite Eight appearance.
Michigan has now won 12 of their last 14 games, including seven straight.
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