Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 19, 2016
It looked like No. 11 Michigan was going to cruise to victory over No. 6 Notre Dame.
The Wolverines looked dominant in the first half, taking a 41-29 lead with some sharpshooting and good transition offense. But the Irish stormed back in the second half, outscoring Michigan 41-22 to take a 70-63 decision.
The Wolverines overcame a lot to get here, impressing in the Big Ten tourney with a win vs. No. 1 seed Indiana and then beating No. 11 Tulsa in a First Four game. A nice feat when you consider Michigan played most of the year with top player Caris LeVert. A win by the Wolverines would have made No. 11 seeds 4-0, as Gonzaga, Wichita State and Northern Iowa all won.
The star: Notre Dame?s V.J. Beachem couldn?t miss. He hit 7-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from 3-point range to finish with 18 points. Beachem also added six rebounds. Hat?s off to Irish big man Zach Auguste who had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The stat: Five, free throws attempted by Michigan, making three. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish took 15 freebies and made 12. Notre Dame is headed to a second consecutive round of 32 for the first time since the 2003 tournament.
The key to victory: Shooting. Notre Dame was on fire most of the game, hitting 58.1 percent of its shots (25-of-43) and 53.3 percent from 3-point land (8-of-15). Michigan countered with 39.7 shooting from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. That good shooting by ND helped it overcome 16 turnovers.
It was over when: Michigan had a 12-point halftime lead. But Notre Dame charged back and took a 62-59 lead with just over three minutes left on a V.J. Beachem 3-pointer. After another stop by ND, Beachem drained another 3-pointer for a 64-58 edge with 3:01 left. The Irish led 66-63 and had the ball with a chance to tie. Zak Irvin launched a long 3-pointer with 12 seconds left that missed, and the Irish rebounded and were fouled. Notre Dame hit two free throws with 11.1 seconds left to ice the game.
What?s next: Michigan?s season ends, but the squad has to think this team probably reached its potential when you consider some of the personnel issues the Wolverines had to deal with this season. All in all, it was a solid season in Ann Arbor for a program that is building toward better things.
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.