The Michigan Wolverines (30-6) will square off with the Texas Tech Red Raiders (28-6) in the Sweet 16 matchup from the West Region. Each team took care of business in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Michigan is looking to make another run at the Championship while Texas Tech is looking to make it into the Elite 8 for the second straight season. This game has every indication of being incredible throughout as two great teams clash with their season on the line.
Here is the preview and prediction for Michigan Basketball’s Sweet 16 matchup against Texas Tech…
What: Michigan Wolverines (2) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3)
When: Thursday, March 28, 9:39 PM EST
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim California
Keys to Victory for Michigan:
This game will come down to which team can execute better on offense. Although it will likely be a defensive battle throughout, the team that gets the last laugh will be the team that can score a tough bucket in crunch time.
Texas Tech has the #1 ranked defense in the country while Michigan is close behind at #2.
These teams are nearly identical in their style of play. Each team plays slow and looks to wear down their opponent with sound, physical defense. Each team averages right around 70 points per game. Each team goes through dangerous scoring droughts relying on their defense to keep them in the game.
For Michigan, the big question will be who can step up on the offensive end and score points. Jordan Poole was able to score 19 against Florida and he was only one of two Michigan players in double figures.
A lot of the offensive burden should fall on Charles Matthews. When he plays well, the Wolverines are nearly impossible to beat. If Matthews scores 15 or more points, there’s no doubt Michigan will win this game. If he can’t, the game will come down to the wire meaning it’s anyone’s game.
Matthews has the experience, and he certainly has the ability. He has been inconsistent all season long and Michigan will need him now more than ever if they want to make a consecutive trip to the Elite 8.
It will also be important for the Wolverines to shoot well from the perimeter. In the second round matchup vs. Florida, Jordan Poole was the only Michigan player to have a good game from the outside. Ignas Brazdeikis, Isaiah Livers and the rest of the Wolverines will need to knock down three-point shots in order to win.
On the defensive side of the ball, it will be all about containing Jarrett Culver. So far through two tournament games, Culver is averaging 22.5 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. He is projected to be a top-ten pick in the NBA draft and he is clearly the heart and soul of this Red Raider team.
Poole and Matthews will likely each get their shot in guarding him and it will be imperative that they keep him from heating up. If they are able to shut down Culver, Michigan will have a good shot at advancing. If they let him get going, it might be a tough day.
Keys to Victory for Texas Tech:
Similar to Michigan, the question for the Red Raiders is who is going to step up on offense to help Jarrett Culver carry the load. Everyone knows that Culver is the number one option so if Texas Tech is going to advance they will need points to come from other members of the team.
They shot 35 and 31% from three in the first two games of the tournament, and they will likely need to increase that number to gain the edge over Michigan. If they shoot close to 40% from three, they will likely score enough to move on.
Defensively, Texas Tech will need to contest Michigan on the three-point line and keep them from winning the battle in the paint. If Michigan fails to utilize 7’1’ big man Jon Teske in the post it might be a rough day for Michigan fans. Michigan doesn’t shoot that well from outside, but if they get open looks, they have multiple players capable of knocking them down.
Texas Tech will win this game if they defend the three-point line extremely well and don’t let Michigan’s streaky shooters (Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews) get hot. I expect Ignas Brazdeikis to score more than five points as he did against Florida, but Texas Tech will need to do everything in their power to keep Poole and Matthews from getting going.
If they get some help offensively for Jarrett Culver and force Michigan into toughly contested threes, the Red Raiders will advance to the Elite 8 for the second straight year.
This game should be a dog fight all night long. Two teams essentially mirror images of each other competing for a chance to get to the Elite 8. As you can expect, with defenses like these, this game will be low scoring, and the team that shoots better and turns the ball over less will win the game.
Both teams have experience in these types of games as each school made the Elite 8 last season as well. In the end, Michigan has enough players on defense to throw at Jarrett Culver which leads me to believe he’ll have his toughest day of the tournament. This should be enough to give Michigan the slight edge.
Final Score: Michigan 59 – Texas Tech 56
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