MI (26-11) advances to the Sweet 16 in Kansas City, Mo., which begins Thursday.
Those words? Stop the three. Then it’s more hard to solve than Fermat’s Last Theorem. “It wasn’t because of a lack of effort”, Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper.
And these Cardinals are eager to stick around this year after already learning one tough lesson about being a one-and-done team in the ACC Tournament.
The first was the 2005 Elite Eight contest between Beilein’s eight-seeded West Virginia team and Pitino’s powerhouse Louisville team.
Rick Pitino encouraged John Beilein not to waste much practice time Saturday trying to solve Louisville’s pressure defense. There was Wake Forest going 10-for-24 from beyond the arc to beat the Cardinals. And you’re going to see a match-up zone, (then) regular zone.
The strength of the Cardinals is their play on the defensive end, holding opponents to 65.8 points per game.
The Wolverines, upset winners of the Big Ten Tournament after winning four games in four days, made 11 of 15 treys in the second half against Oklahoma State, with Walton, Zak Irvin, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson all throwing them in from nearby area codes.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino was cranking the hype machine on MI after both played Friday at the NCAA tournament’s Midwest first round. “Let’s keep going. Let’s keep going”, Beilein said.
The Michigan Wolverines weren’t supposed to win a shootout against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the NCAA Tournament. That Wisconsin team that just knocked top-seeded Villanova out of the tournament? They’ve never lost more than three games to Big East foes in a single season and never more than five games, total.
Against Oklahoma State, the Wolverines were bombs away as they hit a season high 16 three pointers to stay in the game and eventually pull it off. MI point guard Derrick Walton Jr will hope to lead a team whose shooting remains hot.
I asked Pitino what constitutes a good challenge. “And I think it really stems from the play of their point guard”. But I do wish we’d won that national championship for the University of MI. “Out of all the games I’ve ever coached, that one sticks out to me the most of any game I’ve ever coached because we were playing basically seven players”. Walton will have to continue to control the tempo as he’s done all season, and his ability to get the other shooters involved could be the difference in MI finishing the upset. Unlike most teams Baylor plays, however, USC does have the size to deal with Johnathan Motley.
David Levitch knows the game.
That’s before you consider the fact that Wisconsin as a No. 8 seed was one of the dumber decisions that the Selection Committee made. And he’ll have to be, guarding Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll, who dropped 48 points combined on Kansas and Iowa State the past two games, including eight three-pointers. “I did it twice yesterday”.
“For us, it showed us the urgency we have to play with because we went up there for one game and had to go back home”, Louisville forward Deng Adel said. Moreover, can it get the Jayhawks out of the tempo they want to play?
Because they’ve run roughshod over their conference during the four-year reign of Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins. It’s a learning process.
“Here’s what I love about this – there are not too many people that are coaching as head coaches right now that were head coaches before the shot clock, before the three-point line”. “We have to make them do something else other than shoot the 3”.
The Michigan contingent was not impressed with Pitino’s hyperbole. The Wolverines improved defensively.
Derrick Walton Jr.is the Wolverine’s best player, and is now riding a hot streak that brings to mind memories of former national POY Trey Burke. U-M’s chance to tilt the floor comes at the 4 and 5 spots, where and because they can step outside or work around the basket. Dylan Burkhardt over at UMHoops does an outstanding job covering MI basketball every year, and for his recaps he writes a small blurb about each player’s performance. If you give them open looks they’re going to make their threes. They are really hard for us. So they’re truly unique. It’s usually one-day prep. That advice was simple: Do NOT take that job.
He continued: “I’ve seen them in person lose to my son (against the Gophers in a game in February)”. “I don’t know that we compare to the Sacramento Kings”, he said.