FOX 17 in San Antonio: Michigan, Villanova meet Thursday in Sweet 16

Posted at 8:40 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 05:25:43-04

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Seeing Michigan and Villanova play each other in March Madness might give some of you a little deja vu. Just five years ago, these two met up in the same city, in a building just down the road for the national championship. The Wolverines lost that game, but head coach Juwan Howard knows it’s going to take everyone on his roster to try to take down the Wildcats.

“It’s about Villanova and Michigan playing in a basketball game. They’re gonna play great team basketball built on concepts. This isn’t about one on one matchups,” said Juwan Howard.

Up until last week, the Wolverines had strung together back-to-back wins since early February. The maize and blue beat Colorado state and no. 3 Tennessee to make it to the sweet 16, and they’ve got blinders ongoing into Thursday.

“This a neutral site but using one team has more fans than the other. We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of fans most of the time. So I think moving forward being able to play in those environments, sustaining runs those are the biggest things,” said Eli Brooks.

“Staying mentally stable, that’s where the leaders come into play on the floor. You know a guy like Eli Brooks, Hunter Dickinson. We gotta stay locked in and focused. Gotta keep trusting and saying our time will come. And that’s why we have the carry-over the way we do by being able to finish ball games. Because the game is built on 40 minutes and until that buzzer sounds we’re going to continue to keep competing from start to finish.

Defense for Michigan will be crucial. Villanova is on a 7 game win streak and averages 72 points a game. Sophomore center Hunter Dickinson thinks they’ll be up for the challenge.

“With our zone we like to be really energetic and really active in the zone that can try to disrupt team and can try to force them into draining the shot clock and making bad shots,” said Dickinson.

For the fifth straight year, the Wolverines are playing in the sweet 16. A place that not a lot of their fellow big 10 opponents thought they’d end up.

“You know we heard those NIT chants. They were hurtful. They definitely hurt but you know it’s funny how they’ll be watching us on Thursday back at their cribs,” said Dickinson.

Michigan and Purdue are the only big 10 teams left in the tournament this year. The Wolverines are set to face No. 2 Villanova at the AT&T center on Thursday at 7:29 Eastern Time.