There are sixteen college basketball teams still alive for a national championship. The Aggies and Wolverines are scheduled to tipoff at 7:37 p.m. ET at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California in a West Region semifinal. Sweet Sixteen Free Pick: Michigan -3 over Texas A&M.
College basketball analysts and pundits will claim that Michigan (-3, 137) had no business winning their Round-of-32 contest against Houston on Saturday. Third seeded Michigan squares off against seventh seed Texas A&M. A contest in which Michigan qualified for on a Jordan Poole deep 3-pointer as time expired against the Cougars.
Michigan is the highest seed remaining in the West Region, make their fourth Sweet 16 appearance in six years while reaching 30 victories for the fourth time in program history. Texas A&M issued reigning champ North Carolina an utter beat-down at the Spectrum with big games from center Tyler Davis and forward Robert Williams. Davis had 18 points while Williams pulled in 13 rebounds with a dominating frontcourt performance by the Aggies.
Michigan coach John Beilein and his squad look to send #GoBlue to a third Elite Eight across the school’s last five postseason appearances. Moritz Wagner aims to build on his 10 second half points in the win over Houston while Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman verbalized that he had to do a better job of putting his teammates in position to get easier looks than they had versus the Cougars. Michigan shot just 35.6 percent from the field in the win.
Michigan isn’t dependent on just one go-to scorer. They typically earn high percentage shots from their stifling defense. In truth the Wolverines are a balanced crew. Charles Matthews and Duncan Robinson each added 11 points while Poole finished with eight in Sunday’s victory. Michigan’s two hard fought wins at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas last weekend was a plus. Coach B’s squad is guarding better than any of his previous rosters from Ann Arbor. The Wolves held Montana to a mere 0.71 points per possession, and followed that defensive gem by containing Houston’s Rob Gray who needed 22 shots to get his 23 points Sunday.
Texas A&M played a nearly perfect game in front of a pro-Carolina crowd in Charlotte this past weekend. The Aggies 86-65 win over Roy’s Boyz resembled a team that at one point was ranked as high as No #5 in the AP Poll during the regular season. The Texas A&M big frontline must use their size advantage as they did versus the Tar Heels to keep in contact with Michigan tonight.
Davis will have to be better than he was against a Carolina defense that is bottom line soft. The Heels win with transition offense and the Aggies were an uber difficult matchup for Williams’ squad. They did exactly what needed to be done to advance. A&M got a large number of easy second chance points off of offensive rebounds prohibiting the Tar Heels from their bread-and-butter offensive transition style of play.
The combination of Davis, Williams and D.J. Hogg will need to produce 40 total points and 30 rebounds to defeat Michigan tonight. The numbers the trio put up against Carolina. That being said doing such against the Wolverines defense will be a much more difficult task than it was versus the Tar Heels.
There is something to like about a team that finds ways to win regardless of the situation and performance. Michigan is riddled with confidence. The squad has won 11 consecutive games that includes an eight-game winning streak away from including eight in a row away from Crisler Center.
All things being equal Michigan is in the Round-of-16 without playing well in the “Dance”. Texas A&M is dressing out for an event at the Staples Center because they played perfectly this past Sunday.
I have said and written it a number of times in the last month; Michigan is the best team in the Big 10 and they are built for a deep run in this tournament. And it didn’t hurt their chances to make it to San Antonio with the No #1 seed Xavier falling to Florida State.
Flip a coin if you like. Heads it is Michigan and tails it is Gonzaga that earns their way to the Final Four next weekend. But it begins with a Thursday night victory by this defensive minded #GoBlue squad.
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