No. 2 seed Michigan put on a clinic on Saturday. The team's offense clicked immediately, burying a very good seventh-seed Texas Longhorns team after building a massive early lead. The Wolverines continued to pour it on and earned a decisive 79-65 victory.
Michigan becomes the 3rd team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Behind 14 threes, the Wolverines defeat Texas 79-65. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 22, 2014
The Wolverines came out hot early in the game. They were hitting buckets from everywhere on the court and looked extremely efficient.
In fact, Michigan's prowess from beyond the arc was immediately noted by ESPN College Basketball's Twitter account:
Michigan opens the game 6/11 from beyond the arc. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 22, 2014
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News came away impressed, according to this tweet:
Goodness, Michigan putting on a clinic. Leads Texas 32-14 with 5:20 left and has bween whistled for 0 fouls.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) March 22, 2014
Michigan was poised and cautious in the first half of Saturday's contest. The Wolverines didn't commit a team foul until just over four minutes remaining in the half. Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal was at the game and tweeted that the Texas fans near him were not too happy about this:
Michigan hasn't been called for a foul in the opening 14:40, and the Texas fans seated behind me are kindly pointing out that fact to refs.— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) March 22, 2014
Michigan's offense continued to click throughout the remainder of the first half. The team entered the break shooting 53.6 percent from the field and an impressive 53.3 percent from downtown.
The Longhorns had their work cut out for them entering the second half, as Michigan led 43-30 at the break.
Halftime: Michigan leads Texas 43-30. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 22, 2014
The start of the second half resembled much of the first for the Wolverines. They picked up right where they left off, scoring twice from downtown within the half's first three minutes. At this point, Michigan was shooting 10-of-17 from behind the arc as a team.
After all seemed to be lost for the Longhorns, the team found a second wind. Isaiah Taylor got a hot hand for the Texas offense, and Michigan's shooting began to cool off. Texas was able to cut the lead to eight points with eight minutes remaining.
ESPN College Basketball's Twitter account responded appropriately:
Here comes Texas. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 22, 2014
Part of Texas' resurgence came from the team's dominance inside. Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated noted the improvement Texas had made on the glass:
Texas lingering. Longhorns have twice as many offensive rebounds (12) in the second half as they did in the first (six).— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) March 22, 2014
Even though Michigan cooled off a bit, Nik Stauskas continued to distribute the ball efficiently, giving good looks to his teammates. The Wolverines remained patient on offense, taking chunks of time off the clock while choosing to take high-percentage shots.
Speaking of high-percentage shots, many of those came from three-point range late in the game. Michigan made a total of 14 on the day, shooting 50 percent from behind the arc.
That 14th three-pointer was huge, as it set a school record, according to a tweet from Michigan Alumni:
Those points also happened to be the game's dagger.
With Michigan up 15 with two minutes remaining, the Longhorns' comeback bid was done.
Four Wolverines starters finished in double figures. Stauskas was terrific, posting 17 points and eight assists, while Jordan Morgan dominated the interior, scoring 15 points and coming away with 10 boards.
Glen Robinson III spoke of Stauskas' hand in his own 14-point performance on Saturday, according to a tweet from Michigan Basketball:
Despite the 22-point performance by Taylor, the rest of the Texas offense fell short. None of the team's other four starters scored over nine points.
Michigan reaches the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons for first time since the Fab Five era (1992-94)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 22, 2014
Wolverines head coach John Beilein praised his team during the post-game press conference, according to Michigan Basketball's Twitter account:
Beilein: This team has been resilient. They get better in both victory and defeat. pic.twitter.com/8NdVsrSQ7g— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) March 23, 2014
Up next for the Wolverines will be a bracket-busting Cinderella, as the team will take on either No. 11 Tennessee or No. 14 Mercer.
Don't let the seeds fool you, both teams pose a threat to Michigan. Tennessee took care of Iowa in the First Four and routed Massachusetts in the round of 64 by 19, while Mercer upset Duke 78-71.
If Michigan intends to keep its streak going into the Elite Eight, it will need the same type of performance we witnessed on Saturday. Getting up early on these teams is important, as each can put up big numbers at any given time.
After all, according to Michigan Basketball's official Twitter account, Stauskas knows that anything is possible:
Michigan appears to be surging, and the bracket might be lining up nicely for a return trip to the Final Four.