Christmas Wish List: Michigan hopes to bolster interior this holiday season

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Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

Gotta have it list-topper: Interior Depth

What do you get a team that has (almost) everything? The Wolverines have three legitimate scorers, among them one of the nation’s best point guards, Trey Burke. They have a three-point threat in freshman Nik Stauskas, who is shooting nearly 55 percent from behind the arc. They have rebounders with Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary. They don’t turn the ball over. They’re in the Top 10 in the country in shooting percentage.

But outside of McGary and Morgan, especially considering Saturday’s injury to Jon Horford, Michigan is thin on the front line. Coach Jon Beilein started Burke, three wings, and Morgan against West Virginia, with McGary off the bench. Against larger teams in the Big Ten, Beilein may need to boost the minutes of his interior players, but it can only go so far. Despite the weakness, Michigan is a legitimate Top 3 team.

Stocking stuffer: Defense around the rim

The stocking stuffer circles back to Michigan’s lack of depth on the interior. They don’t desperately need it, but they rank 260th in the country in blocks per game as a team with 2.6. Both Morgan and McGary are not shotblocking bigs, though their ability to rebound takes away the sting of not blocking shots. Horford, who dislocated his knee cap Saturday night against West Virginia, is the team’s leading shot blocker with–get this– 0.5 blocks per game. Half a block per game.

Planning on re-gifting: The upcoming Big Ten schedule

Despite their early success, the Wolverines will have a grueling Big Ten slate when conference play roles around. As it stands now, Michigan will play nine of its 18 conference games against teams ranked in the nation’s Top 20, including on the road against No. 7 Ohio State, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 10 Illinois, No. 1 Indiana, and No. 19 Michigan State.

The conference schedule begins Jan. 3 against Northwestern.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

2017 NCAA Tournament Final Four schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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National Semifinals– Saturday, April 1

6:09 p.m. EST, CBS, Glendale
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Approximately 40 minutes after conclusion of first game, CBS, Glendale
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

VIDEO: The insane final 10 seconds of North Carolina’s win over Kentucky

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North Carolina and Kentucky ended in legendary fashion on Sunday.

After freshman Malik Monk buried a heavily-contested three-pointer to tie the game at 73-all for Kentucky with under 10 seconds left the Tar Heels didn’t use a timeout as Theo Pinson found forward Luke Maye for the game-winning jumper.

These 10 seconds will go down as one of the greatest finishes in NCAA Tournament history.

No. 1 seed North Carolina outlasts No. 2 seed Kentucky to advance to the Final Four

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North Carolina advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and 20th time overall as the No. 1 seed Tar Heels outlasted No. 2 seed Kentucky, 75-73, during Sunday’s South Regional final in Memphis.

Reserve forward Luke Maye knocked in the game-winning jumper for the Tar Heels with 0.3 seconds left to break a 73-all tie after Kentucky’s Malik Monk tied the game with a three-pointer on the previous possession.

The Tar Heels (31-7) overcame an ankle issue from junior point guard Joel Berry as North Carolina was led by Justin Jackson’s 19 points.

Maye also stepped up with a big game for North Carolina as he continued his strong March with 17 points. Berry added 11 points, as he went to the locker room during the first half to get his ankle looked at before returning to play later in the half.

Kentucky (32-6) won the regular-season matchup of these teams, 103-100, in Las Vegas in December as their freshmen guards struggled to perform on Sunday. After De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 71 points in that previous win over the Tar Heels, the two freshmen studs couldn’t get going.

Both of them dealt with first-half foul trouble as Fox finished with 13 points while Monk was held to 12 points. Also battling foul trouble in the first half, freshman Bam Adebayo added 13 points for the Wildcats.

With Fox and Monk struggling to generate consistent offense, the Wildcats were able to stay in the game thanks to great performances from reserves like Isaac Humphries (career-high 12 points) and senior Dominique Hawkins (10 points.

North Carolina advances to face No. 3 seed Oregon in next weekend’s Final Four.

VIDEO: South Carolina celebrates Final Four trip by dousing Frank Martin in water

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South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four with its win over SEC-rival Florida on Sunday.

The Gamecocks made sure to celebrate properly when head coach Frank Martin hit the locker room after the game by dousing him in water before Martin gave another speech.

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/846124174259118080/video/1

VIDEO: Darius Rucker tears up as South Carolina advances to the Final Four

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Darius Rucker, the former front man of Hootie and the Blowfish and a current star in the country music world, is a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan.

This isn’t really a secret.

Hell, on Friday night at a concert he was playing, Rucker set up TVs so that he would be able to watch South Carolina take on Baylor:

You probably didn’t realize just how big of a fan he actually is until you saw him, sitting second row at the regional final in New York City on Sunday afternoon, tearing up as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four:

Let ’em cry, Darius, if the tears fall down like rain.