The NCAA Tournament's biggest upset of Round 2 (so far!) arrived in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon as No. 11 seed Michigan took down No. 3 seed Tennessee 76-68, and in the process punched a ticket to the Sweet 16 for a fifth consecutive March Madness.
The Wolverines were a 7-point underdog, but it was a near dead-even matchup featuring a dozen lead changes, a half-dozen ties and both teams splitting good runs with the lead before Michigan's strong sprint to the finish line in crunch time.
Michigan welcomed back starting guard DeVante' Jones into its lineup after he missed the team's first-round game days earlier vs. Colorado State because he was in concussion protocol, and the results early were undeniable. The Wolverines got out to a hot start in the first half and made Tennessee uncomfortable, with Jones tossing in a pair of points, three boards and three assists.
Jones did not return in the second half, however, after hitting his head on the court just before halftime, opening up a window for Tennessee to make its run. In the second half, freshman Kennedy Chandler poured in 10 points and masterfully orchestrated the Vols offense after some early sputters. And yet the Wolverines still survived after its stars came alive, as Hunter Dickinson scored 15 of his 27 points in the second half. Similarly, Eli Brooks scored 18 of his 23 in the second half to close out the win.
"It's all about attention to detail, it's also about the sacrifice for the entire group," said Michigan coach Juwan Howard on CBS after the game. "It's also about our staff being so dialed in and about the trust."
Tennessee took control at various points in the game behind a star-studded showing from Chandler, a true freshman and potential lottery pick, who finished with 19 points and nine assists. Tennessee's offense slumped to the finish, though, as it missed each of its nine 3-point attempts in the second half and failed to generate enough firepower to keep up with Michigan.
The Vols were one of the big Selection Sunday surprises this year after winning 12 of their final 13 games -- including the SEC Tournament -- and somehow slipping to a No. 3 seed despite a résumé clearly good enough to be on the 2-line. They blew out Longwood in the first round by 32 points and looked destined for a second-weekend appearance, but Michigan's size and scoring -- even against a top-five Vols defense -- was too much.
The Wolverines' upset win comes just hours after Baylor became the first No. 1 seed to get bounced from the NCAA Tournament at the hands of No. 8 seed North Carolina despite being favored by 5.5 points. The Wolverines advance in the bracket to face the winner of No. 2 seed Villanova and No. 7 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 next week.