ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Just over 24 hours after defeating Florida 64-49 in the Second Round, the Michigan Wolverines (30-6) now know their opponent for Thursday’s Sweet 16 West Regional matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Second seed Michigan will face the third seed Texas Tech Red Raiders (28-6.) Texas Tech beat Buffalo 78-58 in its second-round game in Tulsa, Okla. Sunday evening.
“I held myself back from saying who are we playing?” John Beilein joked after the Wolverines win over the Gators Saturday night. “Then somebody told me, so they spoiled everything.”
For Michigan, it marks the second straight year the Wolverines are facing a school from the Lone Star State for its Sweet 16 matchup after meeting Texas A&M one year ago in Los Angeles. Michigan exploded offensively, beating the Aggies 99-72 to advance to the Elite Eight.
Should Michigan log another win in the Sweet 16, it will play either one seed Gonzaga or four seed Florida State in the regional final. Michigan defeated Florida State in a nailbiting 58-54 victory last March to advance to the Final Four.
Thursday’s game (9:39 ET, CBS) will likely be a defensive battle between the nation’s top two defenses in adjusted efficiency per KenPom. It very well could be a matchup where the team that reaches 50 first will win with both sides prone to dry stretches on offense from time to time.
The Red Raiders won a share of the Big 12 regular season championship, their first Big 12 title in program history and first conference title since winning the SWC title in 1996.
Texas Tech’s offense ranks 33rd in efficiency, which is among the lowest of the remaining teams in the tournament field. Michigan’s is ranked 18th after Saturday’s win. TTU’s offense is paced by Jarrett Culver, a 6’6 sophomore guard who leads the team in the three primary statistical categories with 18.8 Pts, 6.4 Reb and 3.7 Ast per game. Charles Matthews will likely draw Culver on defense, and it will be interesting to see how the potential NBA lottery pick fares against one of the nation’s best on-ball defenders.
The Wolverines will depart for Anaheim Tuesday night before participating in an open practice and media availabilities on Wednesday. The team was elated to be heading back out west after the success Michigan had in Southern California last season.
“After the (Florida) game I just had a big smile on my face,” said center Jon Teske. “It took so much hard work to get here. Not a lot of people get to go back. Sweet 16 for three years in a row, especially going out to California, warm weather, lot of Michigan fans, it will be exciting.
The Wolverines showed in Des Moines that they might have another Final Four run in them despite the losses from last season, but Texas Tech will provide a challenge for Michigan as it looks to win in the Sweet 16 for a second straight season and fourth time in five Sweet 16 appearances since 2013.
One last video report from Des Moines. The Wolverines on embracing the moment after clinching a third straight Sweet 16 berth following their Big Ten Tournament disappointment. WATCH: @WolverineLounge @BrandonBJustice pic.twitter.com/EbPgxlDKC2
— Jay Sarkar (@ByJaySarkar) March 24, 2019