Michigan’s No. 1 strength entering its Sweet 16 matchup with Texas A&M was defense. That was unmistakable.
The Wolverines were No. 3 in the country in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, before their game against the Aggies. Their 3-point shooting percentage, on the other hand, ranked 117th. That’s far from the worst of the 351 teams in Division I, but it’s also not close to the best. Three-point shooting wasn’t one of Michigan’s strengths.
So naturally, in their biggest game yet, the Wolverines absolutely shot the lights out.
Michigan swished threes from the very beginning of their game against Texas A&M. The Wolverines hit six of their first 10 attempts from deep and were up 19-6 less than 13 minutes remaining in the half.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was 33-12 with under nine minutes left in the first half. That came thanks to a run of four consecutive made 3-pointers by Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, Moe Wagner and Charles Matthews. Simpson also threw in a layup on that run for good measure.
.@umichbball is UNCONSCIOUS FROM THREE! 🔥
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 23, 2018
The game was effectively over at that point. By halftime it was 52 to 28. The outcome was never in doubt. Texas A&M never led, and Michigan’s lead expanded to 29 points before halftime.
Here’s FiveThirtyEight’s win probability for the game:
Pretty much sums it up.
Forty-two of Michigan’s points came on threes. The Wolverines were also lighting it up inside the arc, where Moe Wagner eased through the Aggies’ defense on post moves, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Charles Matthews ripped through defenders. Everyone scored from just about everywhere.
Michigan ended the night still on fire. Walk-on CJ Baird, who was elevated from student manager before the season, nailed a three from a few steps beyond the arc to cap the offensive overload. The Wolverines hit their final seven shots of the game, ending with Baird’s stroke.
Michigan Titus over here making March moments. pic.twitter.com/PnRmB89V2x
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) March 23, 2018
Michigan already had a championship-level defense. If it can shoot anywhere close to this level again, watch out.