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If Michigan is going to win the NCAA tournament, it will need to improve defensively.
Interior defense is the Michigan Wolverines greatest weakness entering the NCAA tournament, and unless the Maize and Blue batten down the hatches, they could be eliminated as early as the opening weekend.
Michigan's defensive woes inside have caused some other problems as well. The Wolverines' defensive rebounding and ability to guard the perimeter have suffered due to their inability to keep opposing bigs from entering the paint with minimal effort.
This has been on display in Michigan's most recent losses to the Wisconsin Badgers, Indiana Hoosiers and in victories over the Michigan State Spartans and Purdue Boilermakers.
Both Indiana and Wisconsin hit three-pointers—seven and eight, respectively. The Hoosiers, Spartans and Boilermakers managed to snag 48 offensive rebounds in their rematches with the Wolverines in March.
Thankfully, the Wolverines will not need to worry about being battered on the glass against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits this Thursday. The Jackrabbits have two talented bigs in Tony Fiegen and Jordan Dykstra, but the latter is more of a shooter than a post-up forward.
Rebounding could become an issue this weekend, though, against the winner of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Akron Zips contest.
Juvonte Reddic is a force both on the boards and in the paint for the Rams. Reddic averages 14.4 points per game to go along with 8.3 rebounds.
The Kansas Jayhawks are another team that will pose a major threat to the Wolverines if they make it to the Sweet 16. Senior bigs Jeff Withey and Kevin Young combine for 15 rebounds per game.
Whether or not Michigan can hold its own in the paint against Kansas and VCU will determine if this team has a chance to make a run at a national title.