Michigan ratchets up its ‘D,’ plows through Wofford
BY DAN MCGRATH Sun-Times Media March 20, 2014 8:44PM
Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III (1) drives to the basket against Wofford forward Lee Skinner (34) during the first half of a second round NCAA college basketball tournament game Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Updated: March 20, 2014 10:13PM
MILWAUKEE — Given the contrasts, Michigan’s 57-40 victory against Wofford on Thursday night in an NCAA tournament Midwest Regional second-round game was pretty much a given.
Michigan, with 43,000 students, is one of the largest schools in the tournament field; Wofford, a Spartanburg, S.C., institution with 1,600 students, is the smallest.
Michigan (26-8) rolled to the Big Ten regular-season title and, after losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament title game, was one of six conference teams invited to the tournament, earning a No. 2 seed. Wofford (20-13) placed third in the slightly less mighty Southern Conference but secured the league’s only NCAA bid and a No. 15 seed with three wins in a row in the conference tournament.
Michigan’s mascot is a wolverine, a “stocky and muscular carnivore with a reputation for ferocity and strength,” according to Webster’s. Wofford’s mascot is a terrier, a yappy little dog.
Wofford coach Mike Young knew what he was in for bringing his team into the Bradley Center, an NBA arena. “I’d rather play the Milwaukee Bucks,” he said. “Michigan is a No. 2 seed for a reason.”
The Wolverines will play the winner of a later game between No. 7 seed Texas and No. 10 Arizona State in the third round on Saturday.
Wofford needed to play a near-perfect game to have a chance. The Terriers made two of their first four shots and one of their next 10, which effectively settled matters. The only remaining question was whether Arizona State’s size or Texas’ athleticism would pose the greater challenge to Michigan.
Nik Stauskas scored 15, Glenn Robinson III had 14 and Jordan Morgan added 10 with 10 rebounds for the Wolverines, but coach John Beilein barely noticed.
“We got a win with our defense tonight,” Beilein said. “That might surprise a lot of people who saw us play this year.
“That probably was our best defensive performance all year.”
Nine first-half turnovers irked Beilein, as did a second-half lull that allowed Wofford to trim an 18-point deficit to seven with 9:18 remaining. But after leading scorer Karl Cochran (17 points) missed an open jumper, Morgan converted a putback into a three-point play, restoring Michigan’s 10-point lead, and the Wolverines were back in business.
“Karl makes that shot with regularity, but it didn’t go down,” Young said. “Instead of down five, it’s back to 10 and it’s a different dynamic.”