CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Michigan won just once in its first six Big Ten basketball games this season.
That rough patch long gone, the eighth-seeded Wolverines are now looking to win their third straight first-round NCAA tournament game when they face ninth-seeded Tennessee this afternoon at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“Everybody pulled together and stuck together as a team,” said guard Tim Hardaway Jr., the Wolverines’ second-leading scorer. “No one held their heads. I think that’s a team. That’s what makes the team — you overcome adversity.”
Despite their weaknesses in size, athleticism and depth, the Wolverines’ effectiveness in running coach John Beilein’s Princeton-style offense with precision makes them difficult to guard.
“They’ve got a very cohesive group in the sense that their roles are clearly defined,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. “They know what they do and what they do well.”
Said Michigan guard Zack Novak: “I think this whole year we’ve really had a tight-knit group. That’s really shown on the floor. We’re going to hopefully keep this going as long as we can, because we’re having fun.”
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...