The Michigan Wolverines defeated Wofford 57-40 on Thursday night to advance to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. It was a one-sided affair from basically the tip-off. Michigan handled their business in a 17 point victory, and will be taking on the Texas Longhorns in the next round.
In a wild day of college basketball, Michigan avoided the upset in the first round, and it was never really in doubt. There were times that the Wolverines were playing below par, but that was almost expected. Top seeded teams don’t necessarily get excited for the first few games, and this was more of just a block in the road that needed to be addressed, and it was handled nicely.
Nik Stauskas put up 15 points in the 35 minutes he was on the floor, and also posted two rebounds, and 1 assist. He played nicely, and was the Wolverines leading scorer. Jordan Morgan may have had the best performance in the game, posting a double-double, with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Morgan is a guy that the Wolverines will need to play well every game if they want to make a run, and will need to duplicate his performance on Saturday against Texas.
Glenn Robinson III began to take the game over, and he also added 14 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist. His aggressiveness was unparalleled, and really helped Michigan hold their lead, and hold it for good. He, like Morgan, will be a guy to watch for Michigan in the tournament because he is a highlight reel waiting to happen, he just needs to be motivated to use his untapped potential. He is considered good enough to be a lottery pick, so we’ll see throughout March, and maybe April, if he has what it takes to make those statements hold water.
Another group of Wolverines that had a big performance, but weren’t really talked about, were Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. Walton Jr. had 6 points, 3 rounds and 5 assists, which is a nice sign for a freshman that hasn’t seen lights as bright as they were on Thursday, so he may be able to replicate how important Trey Burke was last year, meaning the importance of a point guard leading the group. He obviously isn’t the same player Burke was at this point, but having the point guard help lead the show is incredibly important. Point guard is the quarterback of the basketball team, and if he isn’t playing well, it could result in bad errors by the team, and put teams down by a large amount. LeVert had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 28 minutes of play. He hasn’t given the Michigan fans much to worry about this season, so the quiet guard knows how he has to play, and did well in this year’s first game.
After defeating Wofford, the Wolverines are matched up against a Texas team that just won a thriller in their opening game against Arizona State. After beating the 10th seeded Sun Devils, the 7th seeded Longhorns look to play spoiler against Michigan, and they are a team that should be taken seriously. Although they only won by 2, they are a team that fights hard, plays physical, and could give Michigan fits if they are not well prepared. March is a month that every college basketball team loves, and hates, and Michigan’s first 2 games are a shining example. Jumping from playing a 15 seed to a 7 seed is a big jump, and Michigan needs to bring it on Saturday.
There is a feeling around this team that they can make a run in the tournament, and I am on that bandwagon, but they won’t get there just because members of the media have said they can, they will have to earn it. Stauskas, Morgan and Robinson III are the straws that stir the drink, if you will, and as they go, the team goes. Leadership, points, rebounds and determination are the key ingredients to a serious run, and each of those players have that ability. They will have a tough road, and it continues on national television on Saturday at 5:15pm EST.
CBS will be the station to tune into to see the Michigan-Texas game.