Michigan’s run to the Final Four became a run to the title game Saturday night as the Wolverines defeated Loyola-Chicago 69-57 in a national semifinal in San Antonio. Michigan will play for the NCAA championship Monday night against the winner of the second semifinal Saturday night, between Villanova and Kansas.
One of the most excited groups about the Wolverines’ success is Michigan’s incoming recruiting class.
Despite attending a wedding Saturday night, Ignas Brazdeikis made sure he would be watching the game one way or another. What he saw was vintage Michigan basketball, which this team has rode all the way to one win away from a title.
“Crazy!!!” Brazdeikis texted to Land of 10. “The perseverance and the composure truly showed how ready the squad was. And the defense was, as always, incredible!
“I’m very proud and excited to join that culture. Just overall, so excited and happy.”
Colin Castleton, a Daytona Beach (Fla.) Father Lopez standout, told Land of 10 that the work is not done just yet — the Wolverines have one more game remaining.
— Colin Castleton (@Castleton_) April 1, 2018
Castleton and the other four members of Michigan’s 2018 signing class talk every once and a while and keep up with each other on social media. Two of them — David DeJulius and Brandon Johns — were in San Antonio for the game.
— BrandonJohnsJr (@Brandon_Johns0) March 31, 2018
Michigan trailed Loyola 29-22 at the half after struggling on the offensive end. Moritz Wagner (24 points and 15 rebounds) was the main catalyst in both halves, keying the offense during the stretch run that gave the Wolverines a lead.
“It was awesome,” Castleton said. “They started off slow shooting, but they found other ways to score and played pretty good defense during the last stretch.”
Michigan reaching the title game has Castleton already thinking about the 2018-19 season, when he gets to suit up in a maize-colored jersey.
“I’m just really excited,” he said, “just to be able to see that I’m going to be a part of that next year.”
Castleton said the Wolverines showed gumption in their second-half comeback.
“It just shows great coaching, as well as how much heart each player has,” he said. “They played all three point guards because all of them were struggling. Then Moe picked them up, being a leader as a junior and stuff like that. Duncan Robinson hit a couple of 3s. You could just see the camaraderie, because even though Muhammad-Ali [Abdur-Rakhman] was off tonight, other people picked him up.”
Johns said the atmosphere at the game was memorable, but that the Wolverines will have to step it up a notch if they want to stand on the podium come Monday night.
“It was a very great win,” Johns said. “We played good enough to get it done, but we need time-10 for Monday.”