Not a bad way to start St. Patrick’s Day for Michigan Wolverines fans.
After a putrid first half, the No. 11 seed Wolverines made their own luck in the second half, pushing the pace and getting some key stops to beat No. 6 seed Colorado State, 75-63, to advance to the Round of 32.
Here are some takeaways from the win
A tale of two halves
Turnovers were a big concern for U-M in that first, which is to be expected when half the rotation is made up of freshmen. With nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes, Michigan’s offense was especially sloppy without starting senior point guard DeVante’ Jones, who didn’t make the trip to Indianapolis after entering concussion protocol.
With that sloppy play and no made three’s in the first half, Michigan struggled to get into a rhythm on offense. And with Colorado State making eight threes and Big Body David Roddy getting buckets, it seemed there was a chance the Rams could pound the Wolverines.
Props to Michigan’s coaching staff for making stellar adjustments defensively, as Michigan guarded screens more aggressively and pushed its defense out beyond the three-point line, not allowing Colorado State to get open for as many chances.
The Wolverines were also able to push the pace and thrived in transition, turning the game into a track meet and making the Rams visibly uncomfortable.
After the offense looked rather stagnant in the first half, I really thought the Wolverines did a better job moving the ball in that second half, leading to back-to-back threes from Caleb Houstan.
Le sauveur de Michigan que tout le monde avait prédit ? Frankie Collins, of course. Quel coup de fouet apporté dans le backcourt en 2ème période.— #MidMajors (@MidnightCampus) March 17, 2022
Et, les 3-pts de Caleb Houston tombent, aussi. pic.twitter.com/aE5RyAjEzD
Those threes and Eli Brook’s midrange jumpers in that stretch from the 13:36 mark to the 9:49 mark helped shift momentum in Michigan’s favor, and the Wolverines never looked back from there.
Frankie Collins played his tail off
Hunter Dickinson led all scorers with 21 points, Eli Brooks was a steady presence with 16 points, and Houstan’s clutch shooting in that second half helped the freshman to 13 points of his own.
But the real difference maker in this game was Frankie Collins, whose speed and energy helped Michigan battle back in that second half and overcome a 15-point deficit.
With Jones unavailable, the freshman had to step up for the Wolverines and he did just that, scoring 14 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and only one turnover.
When things were at its worst in that first half, Collins was able to breath live into Michigan’s offense, helping keep the Wolverines in striking distance despite a lackluster first half.
The offensive growth we’ve seen from Collins throughout the season has been tremendous. He has gotten much better about staying controlled when pushing the ball up the floor and driving to the paint. We don’t see as many erratic possessions from him as we saw in December.
Collins only recorded one steal, but his defense was a big difference maker in this one, especially in the second half. Collins and Brooks were able to make life hard for the Rams on the perimeter, with Dickinson anchoring the defense and owning them near the rim.
The freshman proved why he’s the point guard of the future in Ann Arbor. If his jump shot can continue to improve, he’ll be a dangerous player next season, and will be towards the top of Big Ten scouting reports.
Where we go from here
Michigan will play the winner of Tennessee and Longwood with that game set to tip-off on Saturday at a time to be determined later.
No matter what happens next round, the Wolverine faithful should enjoy this win. If you would have said the Wolverines would win at least one NCAA Tournament game in mid-January, I don’t think many Michigan fans would believe you.