Friday’s Big Dance action in the Midwest Region is tennis shoe kick started when the Michigan Wolverines and the Oklahoma State Cowboys take Bankers Life Fieldhouse floor in Indianapolis.
The Wolverines (24-11) are led by Derrick Walton – the Big Ten Tournament MVP – who averages 15.2 points and 4.7 assists per game. A hot shooting performance in the first half of a game against UCLA died away, leading to a blowout.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Evans has gone head-to-head with the top point guards in the Big 12, which makes for an interesting matchup with MI senior Derrick Walton Jr.
MI advances to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32, where it will face the victor of Friday’s Louisville vs. Jacksonville State game. He was a solid point guard, but it felt like he left some potential unfulfilled.
Oklahoma State played good, did lots of good things, but just not enough. Then Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman converted on a 3-pointer and was fouled in the process.
The total has gone over in 10 of Michigan State’s last 12 games as an underdog. The confidence from the Wolverines’ Big 10 Tournament run will carry them against the equally potent offense of the Cowboys, who enter on a three-game losing streak. That’s something Michigan State lacks, according to Solari.
Not that it will be any consolation for Evans, but as far as backdoor covers go, this is about as good as it gets. I don’t think anyone really expected the Badgers to rise to the level they did and briefly threaten the Gophers for the lead atop the Big Ten, but they did, and I think for many Badgers fans, that’s statement enough. Then once the threes quit with MI leading 86-81, following a Walton drive to the basket, the Oklahoma State fouling began followed by desperate possessions throughout the final 39.3 of the game.
MI was favored to win the game by 2.5 points. With 328 career 3-pointers, Forte has passed Page for first on the all-time list. I can’t tell you much about OK State, as I haven’t seen them play all year, but I can tell you that if MI can refocus and play with the same determination they finished their season with, the Cowboys will have a tough time hanging with Walton & Co. As Walton poured in a game high 26 points, Irvin played a delightful tune as second fiddle. They are 321st in bench minutes while Michigan State is 1st.
Oklahoma State has more firepower and can crank up the pace to try to run U-M out of the gym. And with the Cardinals coming off a one-and-done at the ACC Tournament, Harper figures the Gamecocks (20-14) will have to handle a quick, early flurry.
If things had gone according to plan, Jawun Evans would be finishing his National Basketball Association rookie season after a brief college career.