No. 2 seed Michigan escapes with a win over No. 11 seed Tennessee


INDIANAPOLIS — At 39.8 percent from the three-point line, Michigan was one of the best teams in the country at filling it up from the perimeter this season.

In the first half of the No. 2 seed Wolverines’ contest against No. 11 seed Tennessee on Friday, though, Michigan nearly doubled that percentage as the Wolverines came out red-hot on the offensive end behind a balanced effort as six different players scored at least six points and Michigan shot 77.8 percent (7-for-9) from the three-point line. The first-half perimeter shooting helped propel Michigan to a 45-34 halftime lead and the Wolverines never trailed in the second half of their 73-71 win over the Volunteers in a Sweet 16 game in the Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Michigan shot 55 percent from three-point line (11-for-20) for the game as four players finished in double-figures for the Wolverines.

Tennessee made the game interesting in the final minutes when the Volunteers cut the Michigan lead to 72-71 with 10.8 seconds remaining on a driving layup by senior wing Jordan McRae (24 points). On the ensuing inbounds play, Michigan sophomore guard Caris LeVert (10 points, five assists) touched the baseline out-of-bounds and gave Tennessee a possession with a chance to win the game, trailing 72-71 with 9.6 seconds remaining.

But senior center Jordan Morgan (15 points, seven rebounds) took a charge on Tennessee junior forward Jarnell Stokes (11 points) with six seconds left to give Michigan the ball back. After two Tennessee deflections out of bounds, junior forward Nik Stauskas (14 points) was fouled with 2.1 seconds remaining and split a pair of free throws to give Michigan the 73-71 lead. Off of a Stokes defensive rebound, McRae missed a three-quarters court heave at the buzzer that didn’t come close to seal the Michigan victory.

Stauskas, the 2013-14 Big Ten Player of the Year, has been the focal point for the Michigan offense all season long but on Friday he had plenty of help from a confident group of Wolverine shooters. If Michigan continues to play this well on offense, they look like a serious threat to make it back to the Final Four. Even with sophomore All-American candidate Mitch McGary acting as the NCAA Tournament’s most famous cheerleader from the Michigan bench, the Wolverines have plenty of ammo on the offensive end to beat any team in the country.

Michigan (28-8) decimated Tennessee’s defense in the first half by exploiting mismatches on high ball screens as Stauskas, LeVert and freshman point guard Derrick Walton (nine points, six rebounds, four assists) all did a great job finding open teammates and moving the ball.

Sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III (13 points) and Morgan (15 points, seven rebounds) did damage on the interior from there as the duo was also able to limit the Tennessee interior duo of senior forward Jeronne Maymon and Stokes (11 points) to a combined 13 points.

Michigan’s interior defense and ability to keep Tennessee away from the offensive glass was a key point entering the game and the Wolverines did an admirable job against the bigger Volunteers, limited Tennessee to eight second-chance points.

Freshman wing Zak Irvin also contributed nine points off the bench for Michigan as the freshman from nearby Fishers, Indiana knocked down three three-pointers.

Despite a strong first half from sophomore guard Josh Richardson (19 points), Tennessee (24-13) couldn’t get in an offensive rhythm to match Michigan’s first-half output.

The Volunteers shot 52.6 percent from the field for the game (30-for-57) but couldn’t defend Michigan’s for long enough to get over the hump and make a comeback. Michigan led by double-digits for a large chunk of the early part of the second half and held off the late Tennessee second-half push. Michigan led for the entire second half.

In his final college game, McRae scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.

The Wolverines now move on to face the winner of No. 8 seed Kentucky and No. 4 seed Louisville in Sunday’s Elite 8 contest in Indianapolis.

CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament

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Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic joined Rob Dauster for an epic, two-hour podcast on the first weekend of the tournament. It was so good that we had to split the podcast into two parts. On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the South and West Regions, from Sister Jean to UMBC to Nevada’s comebacks to Kentucky’s chances at a Final Four.

On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the East and Midwest Regions, from Villanova and Duke steamrolling to Michigan State collapsing to Syracuse and Clemson and Texas Tech and Purdue. It’s all in there.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Eight viral heroes from first weekend of March Madness

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One of my favorite parts of the NCAA tournament is seeing who comes out of nowhere to turn into a viral celebrity during this month of madness.

By my estimation, we had eight true candidates for the award of March Madness Viral Celebrity of the Year. Here they are:


He was more fired up for Houston’s success in the tournament than any Houston fan in the history of basketball in the city of Houston.


Jordan Poole is spelled a lot like Jordan Peele, which inevitably led to people tweeting at Peele instead of Poole. Peele’s thank you tweet was a highlight of the first weekend.


Having to answer questions from a bunch of reporters after suffering the most humiliating moment of your life is not an easy thing to do. Having to answer ridiculous and stupid questions could be intolerable, which is why I loved Ty Jerome’s response to a stupid question he was asked:


I loved seeing Robert Williams’ teammate do a panotmine windmill in the background while Williams was throwing down a windmill in real time on Providence:


Nevada head coach Eric Musselman has led his team to the Sweet 16, cussed on live television and gone shirtless to celebrate with his team, but the star of the Musselman family is his daughter Mariah:


He really does have great hair:

2. @UMBCAthletics

This dude lived the dream of every twitter user out there. When your shot is there, you have to take it.


Mic drop:

VIDEO: Eric Musselman celebrates Nevada win without a shirt

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Nevada head coach Eric Musselman went shirtless to celebrate his team’s come-from-behind win over No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Sunday.

I guess this is better than dropping F-bombs live on national TV. Maybe that’s why they had Steve Lappas talking over him …

Penny Hardaway to be named next Memphis head coach

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The worst-kept secret in college basketball no longer appears to be a secret: Penny Hardaway is going to be the next coaching at the University of Memphis.

ESPN is reporting that a deal has been agreed upon. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is reporting that Penny was waiting for his season to end with East High School before he made anything official. NBC Sports can confirm that an announcement is expected to be made early this week, likely as soon as Tuesday, to introduce the former Memphis and NBA star as Tubby Smith’s replacement.

The truth, however, is that we all knew this was what would be happening the second that Memphis formally fired Tubby Smith. Hell, we knew it a month before that decision was made final. This was always how it was going to play out.

What’s interesting to me is now the discussion of whether or not Penny will be able to handle being a Division I head coach, because it’s been hit or miss with basketball programs hiring legends of their past. Chris Mullin and St. John’s hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Fred Hoiberg was quite successful at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie won a title with UConn then fell off a cliff. Patrick Ewing’s start wasn’t great, but he was better than expected.

Where does Penny fall on this scale?

Well, let me just drop this section of a column from Geoff Calkins in here:

Hardaway isn’t a guy who woke up one morning and decided he’d like to be a Division I head coach. He’s not a former player who got bored with retirement and decided he’d like to do something other than play golf.

Hardaway started coaching at middle school. Middle school! Because an old friend needed some help.

Then he built one of the best AAU programs in the country. Then he spent years coaching a high school team.

Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to roll up his sleeves and do the work? Does that sound like someone who is just in it for the glory and the glitz?

The truth is, if it weren’t for Hardaway’s iconic stature, he might be characterized as a grinder, as a guy who worked his way up from the lowest levels of basketball on the strength of his relationship with the kids.

I think that this is going to work out for both Penny and Memphis, especially if Penny hires a staff that can help him with the intricacies of running a college basketball program.

2018 NCAA Tournament: All-First Weekend Team

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PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Jevon Carter, West Virginia

So Carter’s numbers themselves were ridiculous this weekend. He had 21 points, eight assists, six steals and five boards in a first round win over Murray State. He followed that up with 28 points, five assists, five steals and four boards in a win over in-state rival Marshall to advance to the Sweet 16. For the weekend, he shot 54 percent from the floor and 63 percent from three.

But perhaps the more telling state in regards to what Carter did this weekend are the numbers that the Murray State and Marshall stars put up this weekend. Jon Elmore — whose averages of 23 points, seven assists and six boards matched what Markelle Fultz averaged a season ago — was 4-for-12 from the floor with eight turnovers in Marshall’s second round loss. Jonathan Stark, who entered the tournament averaging 22 points, had nine points on 1-for-12 shooting in Murray State’s first round loss.

On Friday night, we get Jalen Brunson squaring off with Carter.

Buckle up.


  • ROB GRAY, Houston: Gray is the only guy on this list that didn’t reach the Sweet 16 — blame Jordan Poole for that — but he did put together one of the most memorable and impressive first round NCAA tournament performances I can ever remember when he dropped 39 points and a game-winner on San Diego State.
  • KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech: Evans averaged 22.5 points in this weekend’s two games, but what got him on this list was that he averaged 16.5 points in the second half of those two games, closing out a come-from-behind win against Stephen F. Austin with drive after drive and hitting the go-ahead three in the win over Florida.
  • ZACH NORVELL, Gonzaga: Not only did the Zags freshman averaged 21.5 points in two games — including a career-high 28 points, a career-high 12 boards, a career-high six threes and his first career double-double against Ohio State — but he hit the dagger in both of those games; a game-winner in the final minutes against UNCG and a three to put the Zags up six in the final two minutes against Ohio State.
  • SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER, Kentucky: We spent the entire season talking about how Kentucky didn’t have a star this year. That may not be true anymore. SGA averaged 23 points, 7.0 boards, 6.5 assists and 3.5 steals as the Wildcats reached the Sweet 16 as the highest remaining seed in the South Region.
  • THE MARTIN TWINS, Nevada: Caleb was the hero in the come-from-behind win over Texas, doing bonkers in overtime, while Cody had 25 points, seven assists and six boards in the come-from-behind win over Cincinnati. But mostly they were both awesome all weekend.