Michi­gan count­ing on D vs. Texas Tech

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS -

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.

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