The the first two rounds of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are officially in the books and the University of Michigan, despite playing poorly in each of their first two games, has found their way into the Sweet 16.
On Thursday night at 7:35 p.m. EST, the No. 3 Wolverines will square off against No. 7 Texas A&M at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The Aggies manhandled North Carolina 86-65 on Sunday to advance to the Round of 16.
Michigan, according to the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas, will be the favorite for the third straight game of the tournament as they are currently listed as a 3-point favorite over Texas A&M.
For the Wolverines, it took a last second 3-point shot from freshman Jordan Poole to lift Michigan to a 64-63 win over No. 6 Houston.
Game time: Thursday (3/22), 7:35 p.m. EST
In their first two games, Michigan has shot 31% and 27% from beyond the arc. That is something that will have to change if the Wolverines want to hang against Texas A&M, who has averaged just under 80 points per game thus far in the tournament.
On the other hand, it’s been the Wolverines’ defense that has come to play thus far as they have held their first two opponents to an average of 55 points per game on 35% shooting. You can bet the Michigan defense will make it tough for the Aggies to get easy buckets on Thursday night.
One of the keys for the game will be whether or not Michigan forward Moritz Wagner can get it going offensively. Through the Wolverines first two games, he is averaging just 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. So far on the season, Wagner leads the team in scoring (14.2 points per game) and rebounding (7.1 boards per game) and if he is able to get it going, Michigan will be a very difficult team to beat.
When all is said and done, I feel this game will be a slugfest from the opening tip until the final buzzer. Texas A&M may have the advantage when it comes to overall athletic ability but Michigan head coach John Beilein will have his team ready for this one. Don’t be surprised at all if this game comes down to yet another last-second shot.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan 69 Texas A&M 68