The biggest upset of the second-round NCAA Tournament (so far!) came in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon as No. 11 seed Michigan beat No. 3 seed Tennessee 76- 68, and in the process hit a ticket to the Sweet 16 for a fifth straight March Madness.
The Wolverines were a 7-point underdog, but it was a nearly even game with a dozen lead changes, half a dozen ties and the two teams sharing good runs with the lead before Michigan’s strong sprint to the finish line in critical time.
Michigan welcomed starting guard DeVante ‘Jones into its roster after missing the team’s first-round game days earlier against Colorado State because he was in concussion protocol, and early results were undeniable. The Wolverines got off to a good start in the first half and put Tennessee on edge, with Jones registering a pair of points, three rebounds and three assists.
Jones did not return in the second half, however, after hitting his head on the field just before halftime, opening a window at Tennessee to make his run. In the second half, freshman Kennedy Chandler scored 10 points and masterfully orchestrated the Vols offense after a few early misses. And yet the Wolverines still survived after their stars came alive, as Hunter Dickinson scored 15 of his 27 points in the second half. Likewise, Eli Brooks scored 18 of his 23 in the second half to close out the victory.
“It’s about attention to detail, it’s also about sacrifice for the whole group,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said on CBS after the game. “It’s also about the closeness of our staff and trust.”
Tennessee took control at various points in the game behind a star-studded performance from Chandler, a true freshman and potential lottery pick, who finished with 19 points and nine assists. Tennessee’s offense faltered until the end as they missed each of their nine second-half 3-point attempts and failed to generate enough firepower to keep up with Michigan.
The Vols were one of the big surprises on Selection Sunday this year after winning 12 of their last 13 games – including the SEC Tournament – and somehow slipping to a seeded n ° 3 despite a resume clearly good enough to be on the 2 line. They blasted Longwood in the first round by 32 points and looked destined for a second weekend appearance, but Michigan’s size and scoring — even against a top-five Vols defense — was too much.
The Wolverines’ upset victory comes just hours after Baylor became the first No. 1 seed to be kicked out of the NCAA Tournament at the hands of No. 8 seed North Carolina, despite a 5-preference. 5 dots. The Wolverines advance through the group to face the winner of the No. 2 seed Villanova and the No. 7 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 next week.