Michigan men’s and women’s basketball moved to the Sweet 16


SAN ANTONIO – Michigan’s men’s and women’s basketball programs have both reached the Sweet 16.

For the men, it’s their fifth consecutive visit to the dance, and for the women, it’s their second consecutive time.

Both programs are driven by the low presence of post Hunter Dickinson and Naz Hillmonwho led their respective teams in points and rebounds.

Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson (1), Eli Brooks (55), and Frankie Collins (10) celebrate after defeating Tennessee in a college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Indianapolis . (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
FILE – Michigan forward Naz Hillmon (00) shoots around the defense of Louisville forward Olivia Cochran (44) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Thursday December 2, 2021. Louisville won 70-48. Naz Hillmon was named to the Associated Press All-America team announced Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

On Monday March 21, Hillmon and 3rd seed Wolverines beat 11th seed Villanova 64-49 in Crisler Center to upgrade to Sweet 16.

Read: Michigan women’s basketball team moves to Sweet 16 with win over Villanova

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The contest was Hillmon’s final home game, as the star forward is in his senior season.

Hillmon led the game scoring with 27 points while grabbing 11 rebounds for the Wolverines, and fans in attendance loved it as they serenaded him with MVP Chants.

Monday’s performance was Hillmon’s 26th double-double of the year and 50th of his career, which is a program record.

Numbers like that explain why she was selected as First Lady Wolverine to the AP All-American First Team.

“These MVP chants are real,” said Big Ten Coach of the Year Kim Barnes Arico. “You got to see firsthand tonight the kind of player she is. She’s so special, and as great as she is, she’s even better off the pitch. I’m going to miss her. I let it sink in because that game was the last time she would play here in Crisler. She’s family and I love her. She’s definitely left a legacy here in Michigan.”

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“Coming here on Sunday, and we were warming up, the whole Maize Rage was here,” Hillmon said. “And then on a Monday at six o’clock, and seeing people fill the gymnasium is just a testimony. Over my years, we’ve had more and more fans, and how proud they are of us – you can see it in their chants and just by coming to the games. I mean, it’s just a ton of pride and just people wanting to celebrate women’s basketball.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – FEBRUARY 24: Head basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico celebrates with Naz Hillmon #00 of the Michigan Wolverines after a college basketball game against the Michigan State Spartans at Crisler Arena on February 24, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Michigan Wolverines won the game 62-51 over the Michigan State Spartans. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) (2022 Aaron J. Thornton)

On Saturday, the men’s team beat No. 3 seed Tennessee 76-68 to advance to the Sweet 16.

Read: How sweet: Michigan basketball reaches fifth straight Sweet 16, faces Villanova on Thursday

Howard, the 2021 AP National Coach of the Year, did the opposite of what he did in Wisconsin, when he consoled a sobbing Kennedy Chandler, whom Howard has known since he was a child because was playing basketball with his son.

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Dickinson turned in a performance the first weekend, breaking his head coach’s record for most runs scored in two games in an NCAA Tournament, a record set by Howard in 1994.

Dickinson went 8-13 from the floor for 27 points and 11 rebounds against Tennessee. He went 8-10 on Thursday (March 17), scoring 21 points to lead the men in corn past Colorado State.

“Being part of the Sweet 16, as literal as it is, (is) sweet, because no one believed in us,” Dickinson said. “Everyone thought we shouldn’t even be in the tournament, and now people who hated us before the tournament are going home to watch us next week.”

Although Dickinson paved the way for the Wolverines, the play of the day went to senior guard Eli Brookswho pretended to be his old boyfriend Zavier Simpson with the junior skyhook to extend the Wolverines lead in the dying moments.

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Zavier Simpson hits Purdue’s Evan Boudreaux during a game at Crisler Center on December 1, 2018 in Ann Arbor. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Saturday’s win gave Michigan back-to-back victories for the first time since Feb. 8-10.

Since 2013, the Wolverines have been second in NCAA Tournament wins, trailing Gonzaga 24-23. No other Big Ten team has more than 15.

Their dance journey puts them in sweet company, as they join Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Duke as teams with more than five straight Sweet 16 appearances.

The men will look to emulate what the women did on Monday. They, too, will face Villanova in what Michigan fans are hoping for revenge after suffering a heartbreaking loss in the 2018 NCAA Championship.

The No. 11-ranked men’s team is currently a five-point underdog to the heavily favored Wildcats, but fans and pundits alike should fear not as the game looks profitable for the corn men.

In a traditional sense, both teams like to play in a crowd on offense, with their bigs playing in the hi-low action and their guards running down the three-point line.

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With this style of play, Dickinson won’t have to cover pick and roll action as much as he did against Tennessee last weekend, throwing it into the post time and time again.

The game will be played against the same team at the same location on Thursday, and will be announced at the AT&T Center in San Antonio at 7:29 p.m. on TBS.

The Lady Wolverines will face No. 10 seed South Dakota on Saturday after the Coyotes upset No. 2 seed Baylor in the Round of 16. This match will be played at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

With both programs gearing up for the dance, I think it’s time to pick out my best shoes for the occasion.

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