Michigan Continues to Shoot the Lights Out vs. Texas, Cruises into Sweet 16

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterMarch 22, 2014

Jeff Hanisch/USA Today

All coaches like to eliminate hope. Hope is for the gamblers. Hope is for the brackets. Coaches like preparation and controlling situations.

Until you see Michigan and John Beilein in your bracket. Then it's time to go buy a lucky rabbit's foot.

Texas became the latest victim of the hardest offense to guard in college basketball on Saturday afternoon, losing to Michigan 79-65, and entering the offseason with sore necks as the Horns helplessly watched 14 threes go through the net.

Hopeless in Milwaukee.

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Beilein appears to have his team playing its best (and most confident) basketball again in March, one year after the run to the national championship game. And there may not be a darn thing anyone can do about it. 

See, there are those who live and die by the three. (The Duke Blue Devils, please raise your hands.) Then there's the Wolverines, living and thriving on jumpers on their way through another bracket.

Beilein's two-guard offense has always been hard to guard. He did, after all, win his 700th game on Saturday.

Last year was a real chore for opposing defenses when Beilein had Trey Burke, the National Player of the Year, running off endless ball screens and setting the table for talented scorers around him.

This year it might be even harder, as Beilein has five shooters—at least three on the court at all times—knocking down better than 39 percent of their threes. The worst shooter statistically in Michigan's rotation, Glenn Robinson III, knocked down two of three treys against Texas. 

When Robinson is on as well, don't just hope. Pray. 

It's a wonder where Michigan is now. This is a team that many were ready to write off in mid-December when Mitch McGary, the breakout star of last March, decided to sit out the rest of the season because of a back injury. At that time, Michigan was 6-4 with one of those losses coming to Charlotte. 

The Wolverines responded by winning the Big Ten and becoming a more efficient offense than last year's team that led the nation in efficiency. 

But McGary did leave one hole. Jordan Morgan has done a more than respectable job filling in, but the Wolverines do not have great size. 

Mar 22, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Texas Longhorns center Cameron Ridley (55) shoots a jump shot over Michigan Wolverines forward Jordan Morgan (52) and guard Caris LeVert (23) in the second half of a men's college basketball game during the third round of
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Texas posed a real threat on Saturday. Conventional wisdom said the Horns should have been able to exploit the Wolverines in the paint. Texas starts two legitimate post players, one of them a mountain of a man in 285-pound Cameron Ridley. 

The Horns were able to dominate the offensive glass—rebounding 21 of their misses—but that hardly mattered with Michigan shooting 50 percent from distance. 

"We didn't hit our shots in the first half and they were unconscious," Texas forward Connor Lammert said, via The Associated Press' Jay Cohen

Poor Rick Barnes spent his afternoon grasping for some kind of defense—mixing in multiple zone looks—to try to take away those outside looks. But Beilein always had an answer to get his guys their shots. He always does.

Because you can game-plan to try to keep a team out of the paint, you can game-plan for one shooter. But it's incredibly difficult to game-plan for a team that is more than content with taking jump shots all afternoon.

Now, Michigan is headed for the Sweet 16 and two more good shooting nights away from a second straight Final Four.

Next up could be Tennessee, another team with great size inside and the potential to control the paint.

If the Vols are able to beat Mercer on Sunday, someone alert Cuonzo Martin to bring his lucky rabbit's foot to Indianapolis.


C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.