March 19, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team wrapped up regular-season and Big Ten Tournament play with a 26-7 overall record but with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, the team's records reset to 0-0 for all 68 teams in the national tournament.
Every team enters the national tournament with a clean slate and an opportunity to make a run to Atlanta, and tournament season poses a different set of challenges and advantages for each team.
On Sunday (March 17), Michigan's draw in the tournament was announced -- the Wolverines were awarded a No. 4 seed in the South Region and a matchup with 13th-seeded South Dakota State in their second-round matchup in Auburn Hills, Mich. Following a small window for the team to celebrate their third straight NCAA Tournament bid, Michigan went to work preparing for the Jackrabbits.
With little knowledge of South Dakota State's personnel and their strengths and weaknesses, the coaching staff began the challenge of preparing for an unfamiliar opponent. With their game on Thursday, U-M had three days to be prepared for not only SDSU but the entire tournament run. If the Wolverines advance to the third round, they will have just one day to prepare for their next opponent.
For the remainder of Michigan's season, prep time will decrease, and the stakes will increase. Michigan has faced tough situations with back-to-back games and quick turnarounds on several occasions this season, including the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament, Big Ten Tournament and a tough stretch of four Big Ten games in 11 days with three nationally ranked opponents but nothing quite compares to the NCAA Tournament.
With no guarantees from here on out, the Wolverines will relay on their experiences from their 33 previous games, the lessons they've learned, the progress they've made, and their diligent preparation. But most of all, they will rely on the 15 players in uniform that have gotten them to this point and share one common goal -- win.
The fourth-seeded Wolverines held a media roundtable on Tuesday (March 19) before tipping off their NCAA Tournament journey on Thursday (March 21) at 7:15 p.m. at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
In addition to Coach Beilein speaking with the media, Tim Hardaway Jr. sat down for brief interviews.
U-M Junior Guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
On preparing for non-conference opponents they haven't faced ... "We feel really good, especially playing out of conference. There are pros and cons of playing teams that aren't in your conference -- you can't really scout them as well as you can when you're in conference, but they can't really scout you as well either -- it's a different situation when it comes to different matchups in the NCAA Tournament. I think it just comes down to us knowing our personnel on the other team and really paying attention to what coach tells us in the film room. It all comes down to us knowing their personnel and their offensive and defensive concepts."
On quick turnarounds in the NCAA Tournament ... "The closest thing it compares to is the NIT Season Tip-Off and the Big Ten Tournament, as well as some games during the Big Ten season, where we would have a late game and then have a two-day prep for another game. It's only a one-day prep now, but it's similar. You have to really emphasize, going into these games, that if you win, you have to turn around and stay focused for the next game right around the corner. We have to adapt to it and be prepared for anything that comes our way."
On the most important key to success this time of year ... "I think it just comes down to us playing Michigan basketball. We know that we're not going to be perfect when we're playing but have to worry about controlling what we can control on the court for our team."
On juggling the off-the-court responsibilities during tournament time ... "A lot goes through our minds, whether it's school work, eating right, watching film, talking to family and friends. We have to make a conscious effort to do what we do on the court but also make sure you take care of your school work, what your professors ask of you while you're on the road and our other responsibilities off the court."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423