Michigan Battles Notre Dame in Round One

When: Friday, March 18 at 9:40 EST

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Coverage: CBS

Notre Dame and Michigan are most famous for their rivalry on the football field but on Friday night, the two teams will meet on the hardwood.  The Irish ended the football contract between the two schools with games left on the contract to become a part of the ACC in every sport except football.  The team still has to play a certain amount of football games each year against ACC opponents, this reason being cited for the discontinuing of the rivalry.

Michigan (23-12) will play The Fighting Irish (21-11) in their round of 64 matchup.  The Wolverines got into the matchup after a close first four game against Tulsa.  Needing every second to inch out a 67-62 win.  The 11 seeded Wolverines will now look to upset a 6 seeded Notre Dame who is favored by 2.5 points.

Notre dame went on an extremely deep run in the tournament last year to lose in the elite eight to Kentucky.  Most of that team is returning, headlined by Demetruis Jackson who leads the team in points with 15.5 points per game.  In fact, Notre Dame’s whole starting five this year is returning from that 2014-2015 run.  This is a very experienced Notre Dame team lead by coach Mike Brey.

The Fighting Irish, will be a tough test for the Wolverines.  Michigan will have to play to the potential that we have all been waiting for all season.  The Irish are coming off of a season that includes two wins over Duke to go along with an impressive win over North Carolina.  A large part of this success due to the fact that the Irish do two things very well, rebound and protect the ball.  The Irish average 36.1 rebounds a game while only turning the ball over 9.7 times per game.  Michigan also protects the ball very well but will need support on the glass Friday.

The play of Michigan’s big men are going to be a large factor in the game.  The Wolverines big men are going to have to simply show up today, kind of like a 2013 Mitch McGary breakout.  Notre Dame has two very athletic big men, Zach Auguste and V.J. Beachem.  Auguste is the man to watch though, as the Wolverines have struggled with dominate big men this year.  Auguste averages 14.4 points per game to go along with 10.8 rebounds, the senior is a force in the paint.  Whether it is Wagner, Donnal or Doyle, the big men will have their work cut out for them.

This is going to be a tough game for the Wolverines, due to the fact that Notre Dame is very strong where the Wolverines are weak.  I do have a good gut feeling about this game for the Wolverines, mostly because it is March and anything can happen, as we have already seen.

Michigan 77 – Notre Dame 74

What do you guys think are the keys to the game? Tell us in the comments below!