Big Ten rides NCAA Tournament surge into Sweet 16

Like the Louisville and MI game, this matchup will feature two of the premier college basketball programs in the nation. MI (30th RPI), needed 26 points from Walton and 55.2 percent shooting from deep to slip past No. 10 Oklahoma State, 92-91.

Eighth-seeded Wisconsin took out No. 1 overall seed and defending national champion Villanova in a second-round game Saturday, and No. 7 MI ousted No. 2 Louisville on Sunday.

John Beilein entered the victorious locker room with a water gun in hand, and proceeded to soak his celebrating players.

MI made 18 3-pointers - a school record for the NCAA Tournament - in its opening-round win. During that stretch, they won the Big Ten Tournament, one day after their plane skid off the runway during takeoff.

After scoring zero points in the first half of Louisville's opening game against Jacksonville, Donovan Mitchell came out fired up to start Sunday's game.

MI will play the victor of Rhode Island-Oregon in the Sweet 16. At one point in the second half, the Wolverines trailed by nine. Otherwise, he has constructed exceptional teams from players not destined to be National Basketball Association all-stars, whether it was the Kentucky "Unforgettables" group in 1992 that included John Pelphrey and Deron Feldhaus or the 2013 Louisville NCAA champions whose biggest stars were guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva.

Both of these games are must-watch television, and if things go as planned, the Big Ten will send four teams into the Sweet Sixteen. With that, we will also be blessed with seeing two of the best coaches go nose-to-nose during the game: Bill Self and Tom Izzo.

The Michigan Wolverines take the hard wood with the Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet 16.

Deng Adel added 16 points and five boards, while Mangok Mathiang ended with 13 points for the Cardinals (25-9), which had made the Sweet 16 in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances. Point guard Derrick Walton Jr. has missed seven of his eight shots and has a pair of fouls. If Michigan's able to advance to the Elite 8, we have a feeling Beilein will up the ante with his post-game festivities. We just got, like I keep saying, confidence with one another. We have a lot of momentum.

"I thought we were in control", Johnson said.

But for much of the game, it looked like the result would be different. In fact, Rick Pitino was so impressed by what he saw from the Wolverines on Friday that he said, "we're playing the Golden State Warriors".

  • Julie Sanders