While Michigan State, Purdue or Ohio State were expected to win the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan basketball had another idea. Michigan established itself as a team to be reckoned with in the tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where the Wolverines won four games in four days to win the tourney title.
Now, Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the nation, and perhaps one of the most dangerous. In fact, ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla was so impressed with Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament that he chose the Wolverines as his sleeper team to win the national title.
In a segment on ESPN’s The Six, host Michael Smith named eight teams that he believed could win the NCAA Tournament, including Michigan State and Purdue. Then, Smith asked Fraschilla who his sleeper team would be outside of the eight teams he had named. Fraschilla responded with Michigan, adding he was impressed with its defense in the conference tournament.
Here’s Fraschilla’s full quote:
“The obvious answer is Michigan, Michael. They just starred on Broadway in beating two of those Final Four contenders, Michigan State and Purdue, at the Big Ten Tournament in New York City at Madison Square Garden. And the ironic thing is, this year’s Michigan team is the best defensive team [coach] John Beilein has ever had. We know he’s an offensive genius, but their defense carried the day at Madison Square Garden. I really like the Wolverines to break through among teams that are not in that eight.”
Michigan opened the tournament against 12th-seeded Iowa and won 77-71 in overtime. In the subsequent three games against higher seeds Nebraska, Michigan State and Purdue, the Wolverines allowed an average of 62.7 points per game. Offensively, the Wolverines have the firepower to get it done as well, as they averaged just 76 points per game in the Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan will find out its NCAA Tournament seeding and region on Sunday.