Sweet, now elite. Barely. A year ago, everything was new for the Michigan basketball team in the NCAA tournament. Though this year’s team is younger, the Midwest No. 2 seed Wolverines look like the grizzled veterans, showing it in tonight’s 73-71 Sweet Sixteen win over No. 11 seed Tennessee at Lucas Oil Stadium. The win sends U-M (28-8) to Sunday’s Elite Eight regional final, the program’s first consecutive trips since three straight in 1992-94. But only after a nail-biter where the Wolverines blew a 15-point the got down to one point in the final seconds. Fortunately for the Wolverines, Jordan Morgan made the play of the season, taking a charge on Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes with 6 seconds left, preventing a Vols’ game-winning attempt. U-M has now won 15 straight games of 10-point-or-less margins. It was a mirror of the Texas game six days earlier where Michigan ignored the opponent’s size advantage and buried the Vols from long range hitting 7 of their first 9 three pointers to lead by double digits at the half. Yet just like against the Longhorns, the Wolverines had to hold off a second half rally as this one got even tighter. Tennessee kept cutting down Michigan’s lead, getting to within three points in the final minute, most on the strength of Jordan McRae’s 24 points and 19 from Josh Richardson. Michigan was balanced with six players scoring nine points or more, led by 15 from Morgan and 14 from Nik Stauskas, whose final free throw gave the two-point win. After leading by 15 with just under 11 minutes to play, the Wolverines imploded as Tennessee made a second half push with a 9-0 run to get within six points with 6:40 to play and that kept the Vols in striking distance in the final minutes. Michigan struggled down the stretch with a shot clock violation. Then Tennessee got within one when Glenn Robinson III succumbed to pressure and threw away the ball with 10.8 seconds left to get Tennessee within one. Then Caris LeVert stepped on the end line with 9.6 seconds left, cranking the drama before Morgan saved them.
Wolverines advance to Elite Eight with 73-71 win over Tennessee
Detroit Free Press | Mar 29