Michigan counting on D vs. Texas Tech
Michigan vs. Texas Tech in the Sweet 16. First one to 50 wins?
The No. 2 seed Wolverines and No. 3 seed Red Raiders meet Thursday night in the West Region in Anaheim, Calif., in what should be a bare-knuckled brawl. By any metric, these teams have had two of the best shutdown units all season; in fact, Texas Tech is No. 1 and Michigan is No. 2 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
“I think that the pride part of it started last summer when guys were in here playing one-on-one from sunup to sundown,” said Michigan senior guard Charles Matthews. “Nobody wanted to be the guy that was embarrassed and talked about the day after. That’s what started us locking up.”
Michigan (30-6) held Montana to 33.3 percent shooting in the first round, winning 74-55. The Wolverines locked down Florida 6449 in the second round, giving up 34.5 percent shooting.
Wolverines coach John Beilein, a Western New York, native, said the pride part of playing defense is a remnant of last season’s team that reached the national title game before losing to Villanova.
“I think our 33 wins last year was the sales job,” he said. “They saw it firsthand that a team could beat really good teams last year — really good teams — with defense.”
Texas Tech (28-6) believes that, too. The Red Raiders held Northern Kentucky and Buffalo to a combined 36.9 percent shooting in the first two rounds.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard. “They picked us bottom of the Big 12 and haven’t gotten much respect this year, but these guys have continued to keep a chip on their shoulder and just realize that we can do a lot of things if we play as a team.”
The key matchup could be how Michigan — especially the 6-foot-6 Matthews — is able to corral Texas Tech star Jarrett Culver, a versatile 6-6 sophomore with NBA lottery projections.
In other college basketball news, Florida State won’t have forward Phil Cofer for Thursday’s Sweet 16 game against Gonzaga. Cofer suffered a foot injury in practice last Tuesday and missed the Seminoles’ first two games in the NCAA Tournament.