NCAA Tournament Preview: First Round – Michigan vs Notre Dame

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan Wolverines

Where: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY

Tip Off: Approx. 9:40 p.m. ET on CBS (following conclusion of (3)WVU/(14)SFA at 7:10 p.m. ET)

When: Friday, March 18th, 2016

Line: ND -3

After barely squeaking into the NCAA Tournament, Michigan (23-12) took care of business in its “First Four” matchup with Tulsa, defeating the Golden Hurricanes 67-62. Now, just two days later, the Wolverines will have a much tougher matchup, this time against the Fighting Irish.

Aside from a couple of upsets over the likes of Maryland, Purdue and Iowa this season, Michigan has been as predictable as could be this season. Generally, they’ve beaten every team they should have and lost to every team they were expected to lose to.

The Wolverines played gutsy down the stretch, defeating both Northwestern and Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament by a total of five points before falling to Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals. They showed their grit again against Tulsa, and will need more of the same tonight.

THE OPPONENT

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-11) finished the season 5th in the ACC, but aren’t an easy matchup for the Wolverines. With wins this season over Duke, UNC and Louisville,the Fighting Irish have the ability to beat anybody on any given day.

Notre Dame is led by junior guard Demetrius Jackson and senior forward Zach Auguste. Both players are dangerous offensive threats, and especially in the case of Auguste, will be a big problem for Michigan tonight.

An offense that can shoot the ball as well as any in the nation, and doesn’t turn it over much, the Fighting Irish will be a tough test for the Maize and Blue.

THE DIFFERENCE

When you sit down and look at it, Michigan and Notre Dame are very similar teams. Both shoot the three-pointer well, both don’t turn the ball over and both teams aren’t great defensively. When it comes down to it, this game is going to come down to two things: three-point shooting and post play.

If Michigan is going to stand a chance, the likes of Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson and Derrick Walton Jr. are going to have to shoot well from the three-point line. All three are capable of putting up 20 on any given night, but have struggled to do so down the stretch.

And down low, Michigan needs to contain Auguste to have any chance. Auguste was the main reason the Fighting Irish almost upset that historic Kentucky team last season. Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle are going to have their hands full all game, and the Wolverines will need strong games defensively from both in order to pull the upset.

From what I’ve seen from them this season, I can’t expect that, and expect Notre Dame in a close one.

PREDICTION

Michigan – 70
Notre Dame – 74