No. 2 seed Michigan (26-8) is set to tangle with No. 7 seed Texas (24-10) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Milwaukee's Bradley Center Saturday afternoon.
The two squads experienced very different opening-round challenges on Thursday. Texas needed a buzzer-beater to beat Arizona State, 87-85, while Michigan cruised by No. 15 Wofford, 57-40.
Cameron Ridley’s game winner lifted the Longhorns to their first tournament win since 2011.
Texas went to the NCAA tournament in each of Rick Barnes's first 14 seasons at the school, even earning a berth in the 2003 Final Four. But last season was a disaster for the Longhorns, finishing with a 16-18 record and with just one win against a ranked opponent.
Texas lost three starters from that team, but the Longhorns were determined to turn it around. They stumbled a bit heading into the tournament, losing five of eight, but they stepped up at the most critical time against the Sun Devils.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines held Wofford to just 34 percent shooting, but had some nervous moments with a long stretch of cold shooting in the second half.
“We were able to get a win basically with our defense today,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “That's something a lot of people wouldn't say if they watched us this year.”
The Wolverines are trying to prove that last season was not a fluke. Michigan earned a trip to the national championship before falling to Louisville, 82-76. The 2013 squad was led by star point guard Trey Burke, now a member of the Utah Jazz.
The Longhorns and Wolverines have two common opponents this season, Iowa State and Michigan State. Michigan fell at Iowa State in November, while Texas split with the Cyclones. Michigan State defeated Texas in Austin, and went 1-2 against Michigan this year.
Michigan is led by sophomore guard Nik Stauskas, who is averaging 17.4 points per game. The Wolverines also rely on returning starter Glenn Robinson III, and Chris LeVert, who has been a major contributor in his second season.
Texas has a balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging double digits, Jonathan Holmes, Isaiah Taylor, Javan Felix, and Ridley all average better than 11 points per game.
The winner advances to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of Mercer vs. Tennessee.
Time: 5:15 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CBS
Online Stream Info: A live online stream can be viewed at NCAA March Madness Live here.
Prediction: Michigan 68, Texas 59