MI prepared for defensive slugfest against Texas Tech in Sweet 16

MI prepared for defensive slugfest against Texas Tech in Sweet 16

MI prepared for defensive slugfest against Texas Tech in Sweet 16

The third-seeded Red Raiders (30-6) held the highest-scoring offense in college basketball to 43.1 percent shooting and dominated both ends of the court in the final two minutes to knock off the No.1 seeded Bulldogs. Here is a preview of Thursday's games. Gonzaga is the second No. 1 seed to be sent home in the NCAA tournament, joining the Midwest Region's top seed, North Carolina, which lost Friday in the Sweet 16 to Auburn.

It's a disappointing out for the Wolverines, who looked like a favorite to return to the Final Four for a second-consecutive year after opening the season with 17-straight wins. "I was confident it was going in".

Though Gonzaga was the only team to beat Duke and Zion Williamson at full strength this season, there will be no rematch in the Final Four.

Like the regular season, sophomore guard Jarrett Culver has been the primary offensive threat; scoring 67 points in three games (31.5 percent of the team total) and sophomore guard Davide Moretti has been a 3-point marksman all season, making 67 of 142 attempts (47.2 percent). "They saw it firsthand ... a team could beat really good teams a year ago, really good teams, with defense".

Watching the score get out of hand, Wolverines coach John Beilein, one of the best tacticians in the game, called a timeout early in the second half to try to get a shot, a possession, anything, that might generate something for his team to build on. Both teams were in the Elite Eight last season and have again had tremendous seasons up to this point.

While the defensive battle is a storyline, MI senior Charles Matthews knows what it's like this time of year. He made contact with Texas Tech's Matt Mooney, who was trying to inbound the ball under the basket, drawing the call. Iggy Brazdeikis scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds in a rare bright spot on the night. Six of Gonzaga's players have a free throw percentage higher than 70 percent, excluding Matthew Lang who has only shot one free throw this season and made it. Texas Tech went on a 16-2 run from the end of the first half through the beginning of the second half to pull away from the 2-seed Wolverines and build a lead that would prove too much for an anemic MI shooting performance. Tennessee was ranked in the preseason top 10 and has played like it all season.

By almost every metric, Gonzaga had the best offense in the country this season.

"Their passion, their togetherness, their courage, thousand aggressive they are, at this point I'm a fan (of Gonzaga)", Beard said, "and here in the next hour or so I've got to flip that and start to get ready to try to prepare against them". The big keys for MI will lie in rim protection, three-point shooting, and Poole/Matthews getting to their spots and burying the jumpers. They need their star guard, Carsen Edwards, to have another big game. Edwards scored 42 against Villanova in a blowout win, but only 11 in the Boilermakers loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament.

"I knew the defense was going to be intense when I got here", MI freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis said.

Winners this week will advance to the Elite Eight games, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at times to be determined.

Virginia and OR will face off in the late game in the South Region. We do really good with guys that love to play. The college basketball odds have them as four-point underdogs.

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