No. 1 Michigan Holds off No. 8 LSU to Advance in 2021 NCAA Men's Tournament

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 23, 2021

LSU forward Trendon Watford, left, shoots over Michigan forward Brandon Johns Jr. (23) during the second half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium Monday, March 22, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Top-seeded Michigan is headed to the Sweet 16 after an 86-78 defeat of No. 8 LSU on Monday.

Chaundee Brown Jr., who was held scoreless against Texas Southern in the first round, dropped 21 points off of the bench to supplement a 21-point performance from Eli Brooks for the Wolverines, who are 22-4. 

For the 19-10 Tigers, standout freshman Cameron Thomas posted 30 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome a season-best performance from Brown. 

Notable Performers 

  • Cameron Thomas, LSU: 30 PTS (10-of 23 FG, 3-of-5 3PT)
  • Eli Brooks, Michigan: 21 PTS (7-of-11 FG, 5-of-9 3PT), 7 AST, 4 REB
  • Chaundee Brown Jr., Michigan: 21 PTS (6-of-9 FG, 3-of-6 3PT), 3 REB
  • Javonte Smart, LSU: 27 PTS (10-of-23 FG, 2-of-10 3PT), 9 REB, 5 AST


Strong Start from Cameron Thomas Boosts LSU

The Tigers jumped out to an early lead thanks to Cameron Thomas, who scored 12 points in the first six minutes as LSU built a 15-7 advantage. His personal scoreline matched that of Michigan in its entirety at the 12-minute mark of the first half.

LSU Basketball @LSUBasketball

Cam Thomas has 12 points. Michigan has 12 points. Tigers up 7. https://t.co/LQHOgkwA2w

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Cam Thomas is COOKING early on ♨️ @LSUBasketball #MarchMadness https://t.co/pa04wWd7Hx


LSU's early run was a complete turnaround from its first-round game against St. Bonaventure, during which it eventually came away with the 76-61 win after shooting just 3-of-24 in the opening eight minutes and missing 12 consecutive three-point attempts. Thomas ended that game with 27 points. 

Sheldon Mickles @MicklesAdvocate

At this point Saturday vs. St, Bonaventure, #LSU had 2 points. Cam Thomas has six times as many by himself.


In addition to Thomas' offensive onslaught, the LSU defense was on-point, save for giving Michigan the advantage on defensive rebounds. The Tigers forced Michigan into five turnovers, posting three steals and three blocks by the break. 

He was slowed in the second half and didn't record his first field goal until eight minutes in as the Tigers answered a Michigan rally with a 12-3 run of their own.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

CAM. THOMAS. CAN’T. MISS. 🔥 @LSUBasketball #MarchMadness https://t.co/5PnoC6Et1C


Javonte Smart broke out with 27 points and nine rebounds while Thomas ended with 30 points, but it wasn't enough to push LSU past a major second half from Chaundee Brown Jr. 

Chaundee Brown Jr. Breaks Michigan Out Of Run Trouble

If the first minutes of the game were all Cameron Thomas, the second half was all Chaundee Brown Jr.

As both teams traded major runs, Brown remained consistent until the buzzer, leading the Wolverines with 21 points off the bench. 

The Wolverines struggled against Thomas' fast start, but they settled in halfway through the first 20 minutes. After starting 7-of-16 from the field, the Wolverines ended the half by going 9-of-12.  They were led by 13 points from Eli Brooks, who racked up nine of those points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep. 

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Eli Brooks banks it home 👌 @umichbball #MarchMadness https://t.co/S3N7WaoRmD

CBS Sports @CBSSports

You could use an ATM for an after hours deposit, but it seems the bank is still open. https://t.co/41RurygV8g


Michigan also highlighted its bench depth with seven points from Brown and four from Terrance Williams II. 

Free throws saved Michigan at the end of the half with five shots from the line giving the Wolverines the slight edge, but LSU shot a perfect 6-of-6 on free throws to keep it close even as Michigan found its footing after the scare at the start. 

The Tigers' success from the line would come back to haunt the Wolverines as Michigan was whistled for five fouls in the opening four minutes of the second half. With seven chances from the line, LSU hit five and went on an 8-0 run to take the lead back quickly, 51-45. 

The Wolverines answered with a pair of threes from Mike Smith and Brooks, starting a quick 10-0 run to earn their largest lead of the night at four points.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

A+ ball movement there by Michigan to tie it! https://t.co/5O40jrIPBl

CBS Sports @CBSSports

THROW. IT. DOWN. https://t.co/IYCzZbQq8l


But amid the back-and-forth runs, Brown, who transferred from Wake Forest prior to this season, broke it open for Michigan in the end. After LSU erupted for another 12-3 run, he led the Wolverines out to another lead with six free throws and a deep three.

Maize n Brew @MaizenBrew

The history books will never accurately portray how critical a piece Chaundee Brown is

Patrick Schmidt @PatrickASchmidt

Michigan is +21 with Chaundee Brown on the court. That’ll play. #MarchMadness

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

Chaundee Brown is having himself a night

Brooks went down with an injury inside the seven-minute mark and eventually returned, but Brown kept it rolling amid a 16-3 run for the Wolverines. The senior recorded a season-high 21 points, just short of his career high of 26 points to lead the Wolverines into the next round. 

What's Next? 

The Wolverines get the winner of Monday's game between No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Colorado in Sweet 16 play.

As for the Tigers, they'll welcome the fifth-best recruiting class in the SEC with three players currently signed to the program, per 247Sports. Center Jerrell Colbert, a 4-star recruit from Tennessee, headlines a class that also boasts 3-stars Brandon Murray and Bradley Ezewiro.