Coming into the final day of Sweet Sixteen games, I was looking forward to a bundle of games. There is Virginia and Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky, but no game caught my attention more than Michigan and Tennessee.
Since the first round, Tennessee showed a lot of promise, and the way they played the game, really grabbed my attention. I love the big men play, the pound for pound, and their tough defensive game.
On the other hand, Michigan has been one of my teams I predicted to be upset. Michigan is a young team, with an offensively talent players. I believed they would be upset versus a team that they would not take seriously. However, it has been the exact opposite.
Michigan blew past Wofford and Texas, and made it to the Elite Eight without much struggle. The first half foreshadowed another blow out, as Michigan was on fire in the first half!
Michigan shot 7/9 from three, 62% from the field, 100% from the free throw line, and with 7 assists. With their great shooting and scoring, they forced Tennessee into their worst defensive half of the year!
Tennessee shot well, but no where near the efficiency of Michigan. Tennessee shot 50% from the field, 3/8 from three point land, and 60% from the free throw line. In a usual game versus Michigan, the score and feel of the game would have felt much closer in the first half.
However, Michigan played their game in the first half, as their guards were making plays, knocking down threes, and driving to the basket. Michigan's guards had 67% of the first half points for the Wolverines.
Tennessee, on the other hand, was trying to play big, but the foul trouble, and Michigan defense contained their big men. Their two bigs, Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, only had 4 points, shot 2 for 7 from the field, and only had 3 rebounds in the first half!
Overall, Michigan played their game, and played it well, in the first half and jumped out to a 45-34 lead at half.
In the second half, (Hold on to your hats) the first half of the second half was the exact same as the first half. Michigan was shooting well and Tennessee was struggling to fight back into the game.
However, around the 9 minute mark, Tennessee started making more of their shots. Their play maker, Jordan McRae started upping his game as he only scored 8 points in the first half, but 16 points in the second half. Jarnell Stokes had a mediocre first half, but scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in the second half.
Tennessee is lucky that Josh Richardson had one of his better games, as he helped keep Tennessee in the game - 13 points in first half, 19 total.
Tennessee started making more shots, and on the other side, Michigan's three pointers started falling out! Michigan started 8 for 11 from three, but dropped to 3 for 9 in the later second half. Michigan dropped their FG% from 62% in the first half, but their total shooting fell to 54%.
Tennessee was able to cut the Michigan lead to 5 with two minutes left, but did not stop there. Tennessee forced Michigan into 5 straight turnovers with two minutes left, and had consistent scoring.
Tennessee ended up with the ideal situation after a great comeback - Down by 1 with 11 seconds left. Tennessee immediately threw the ball into their big man, Jarnell Stokes, and Stokes tried pushing his way to the basket. However, his strategy backfired.
Jarnell Stokes was called for a charging call, and Michigan got the ball back. Michigan was able to waste time trying to bring the ball in, and Michigan walked away with the win.
Although Michigan stuttered near the end of the game, they were able to finish off the game with smart defense, and a quick start.