Seniority and freshmen helping Michigan continue in March Madness

Sweet 16 game against No. 2 Villanova on Thursday
Posted at 5:24 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 17:24:10-04

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Michigan mens basketball is back in the sweet 16....the Wolverines are making their 5th straight appearance at this point in the tournament, setting a big 10 record. And some have been wondering what has made the maize and blue so consistent in the month of March. Hunter Dickinson had an easier answer.

“Well we got a guy named Eli Brooks who’s been here for 5 years that’s been there. Maybe that’s the common denominator,” said Hunter Dickinson.

He’s right. Eli has been on the team all five of those seasons. This year as a grad student, he’s averaging 19 points a game and is 51% from the field. But for him, this one is personal.

“This is the two schools that it came down to for me so this is a big matchup for me. To get a win in the same place we lost the national championship in but I’m not going to make it personal about me. It’s about moving on to the next round and just having to beat Villanova again back in San Antonio,” said Brooks.

“You know the team I inherited from Isaiah Livers to Xavier Simpson, and now you look at guys like Eli and Hunter. It says a lot about these young men and how they are giving to the program but also giving to the leadership,” says Howard.

From the veterans, to the rookies. Freshman guard Frankie Collins stepped up big last weekend for the Wolverines when DeVante Jones was out with a concussion. They know now they can rely on him in games to come.

“But it wasn’t a surprise to his teammates, it was a surprise to me or the staff. Because the work he’s put in at practice the work he’s put in outside of practice. But on the big stage at the NCAA tournament, he didn’t look like a freshman. He looked like he belongs, which he does,” says Howard.

“He’s a great point guard. He’s young but he understands his role on the team, he’s athletic. You know a quick guard who can get down hill, score for himself or make plays for others. And he’s just all around a great guard for us,” said Devante Jones.

Whether or not Devante will be available to play on Thursday is still up in the air. Juwan Howard said they will see how he does in practice tomorrow morning. Game time is set for 6:15pm eastern time here in San Antonio.