Michigan got a good draw with a No.8 seed and Tennessee in the first round. Tennessee is a very average basketball team that does nothing to scare me, but the same could be said about Michigan. Whoever the winner may be, it'll have an almost impossible task of playing Duke in the second round (yes, it's the second round). The Wolverines will still have to overcome a lot of disadvantages to win this game.
What Michigan will have to overcome:
Size - Outside of their point guard, Tennessee doesn't start a single player under 6'6". That doesn't bode well for a team whose leading rebounder is the 6'4" Zach Novak. No player on Michigan pulls down more than six rebounds per game, while Tennessee has two players that average over seven rebounds per game. As a team, Tennessee is 34th in the country in rebounding whereas Michigan is 300th, averaging six less rebounds per game as a team. Michigan will have to be scrappy and fight for every loose ball to compensate for this lack in size underneath the basket.
Experience - The youngest team in the Big Ten takes on a team with four upperclassmen in their starting five. Senior day for Michigan this year didn't exist, while Tennessee graduates six seniors from its program this year. Michigan came into this year knowing it'd have to get leadership from their young players, and so far that has happened. Will it be Morris or Hardaway leading Michigan to the round of 32?
Home Court Advantage - Michigan, the higher seed, must go down south to North Carolina to play the game. Many fans from Tennessee will be crossing the Tennessee-North Carolina border to watch the Volunteers play. This factor is important.
What Michigan has going for them:
Shooting - Yes, Michigan can shoot the three. Tennessee's Scotty Hopson has the most 3-pointers made on his team with 52. For Michigan, Tim Hardaway Jr. has sunk 74, Zach Novak has made 57, and Stu Douglass has 52. They shoot it efficiently too. Michigan has all five of it's best 3-point shooters making over 35 percent from distance. Scotty Hopson is the only Tennessee player that can shoot with that kind of efficiency.
Coaching - John Beilein is a basketball genius. Bruce Pearl is a glorified recruiter who was suspended for a good chunk of Tennessee's season. Beilein revived West Virginia with a cast of misfits and he's reviving Michigan despite their youth.
Momentum - Does momentum really exist in basketball? Maybe. But coming in hot couldn't hurt the Wolverines, and coming in having lost a number of close game during the last month of their season probably won't help the Volunteers.
Prediction: Michigan wins 69-61 and then gets obliterated by Duke in the second round.