Michigan Basketball sails past Texas Southern in the opening round

Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas Southern provided the Michigan Basketball team with a perfect tournament warm-up game in the first round, but Wolverines beat the Tigers 82-66.

The 2020-21 coach of the year, Juwan Howard, gets his first tournament win with the program, and despite losing one of their top players for the duration of March Madness, Michigan Basketball still prevailed.

Michigan needed to enter the game with laser focus knowing the Big Ten Conference didn’t have much luck on the first day seeing Ohio State and Purdue both upset by Oral Roberts and North Texas, respectfully.  Before that, the Michigan State Spartans had been the favorite to win lost to UCLA in the First-Four.

It was a Wolverines team that needs to rely on its depth-scoring if they hope to make a run to the Final Four.  With the teams’ second-leading scorer, forward Isaiah Livers, expected to miss the entire tourney with a foot injury, others need to step up and fill the void.

Michigan Basketball avoids the first-round upset; beats Texas Southern.

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We know what to expect from Michigan’s exceptionally talented center, Hunter Dickinson, and he wouldn’t disappoint.  Dickinson scored 16 points but pulled down just two boards.

Franz Wagner didn’t light up the scoreboard in this one but proved his worth crashing the board, making up for the often double-teamed Dickinson’s lack of rebounding availability. Dickinson fouled out with 2:30 remaining with the Wolverines up by 12.

Dickinson was quickly swarmed on the offensive end which led to the big fella turning the ball over six times.  Without Livers, the Wolverines need to understand the double-team is coming and Dickenson needs to find the open man.

Wagner scored nine points but reeled in eight boards and proved to be a valuable facilitator leading the Wolverines with a team-high six assists.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve mentioned Michigan Basketball will need a player like Brandon Johns to be heavily involved.  He’s a 6-foot-8 wing that can really shoot it when given the opportunity.  Johns usually comes off the bench in Howard’s deep rotation but forced to start with Livers out; he did not disappoint, scoring 11 points along with pulling down two boards in 25 minutes of work.

The senior Eli Brooks set the pace early for the Wolverines, burying a couple of three-pointers early on and provided Michigan with stable back-court playing alongside Mike Smith, who continued his hot play scoring 18 while adding four assists.  Brooks would eventually finish with 11 points, six boards, and five assists

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The Wolverines will lock-up with another school that has ‘Tigers’ as their nickname.  Michigan is set to play LSU in the second round of the NCAA tournament.