Men's Basketball

Ignas Brazdeikis was recruited by Florida before deciding to play basketball for Michigan.

Brazdeikis canceled his official visit to Florida after going to Ann Arbor, never stepping foot in Gainesville as a recruit. That won’t stop anyone involved from thinking about what could have been as he lines up for the Wolverines against the Gators in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.


It seemed that every shot Montana took — threes, layups, even a fast-break dunk attempt — missed. The Wolverines’ shooting wasn’t particularly potent, either, but their defense clamped down, holding the Grizzlies to 33 percent from the field. Montana (26-9), a No. 15 seed out of the Big Sky Conference that doesn’t start anyone taller than 6-foot-7, had no answer for Michigan’s relentlessness.


DES MOINES, Iowa — As Michigan stormed out to an early but indestructible lead Thursday night against Montana, the word of choice across social media was “boring.” By the time the Wolverines jogged down the tunnel at halftime with a 34-21 advantage that felt more comfortable than that, many back

Redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews scored 22 points as Michigan beat down Montana on Thursday.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Charles Matthews ran down the floor with some urgency, shooting the moment the ball came to him. He heard the buzzer sound, saw the basket light up red and the ball roll around the rim with the guise of a shooter’s bounce, before falling out. Then he smiled.

Junior center Jon Teske exploited a size mismatch against Montana.

Thursday, the Wolverines were happy for the opportunity to overwhelm an opponent by simply walking onto the court.

Redshirt junior Charles Matthews will be key if Michigan is to make another deep tournament run

If everything had gone as planned, Matthews would be in the NBA right now. His expectation was to follow in the footsteps of John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.

He didn’t.

More than five years after he committed to Kentucky with intentions of becoming the next great one-and-done lighting college basketball on fire, Matthews is the captain of a Michigan basketball team with national championship aspirations, finally ready for one last go-around.

Zavier Simpson is in the mindset of taking the NCAA tournament one game at a time, an attitude that is spreading to the rest of the team.

For 24 hours after the loss to the Spartans, Michigan stewed — and its coaching staff let it. But Monday afternoon, with just three days until its NCAA Tournament journey would get underway against 15th-seeded Montana, Wolverines coach John Beilein knew it was time to turn the corner.

Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers is shooting 45 percent from three this season, best on the team

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you Livers is trending up going into the NCAA Tournament, due in large part to an uptick in confidence. Developing that has been a process, but now — after two years where he gained a starting role, then lost it, then got it back and lost it again — Livers is hitting a crescendo at just the right time.

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis has shot 42 percent from 3-point range this season, attracting attention for both his impressive play and confident attitude.

For Brazdeikis, everything flows from confidence. For the rest of the country, that’s a euphemism for arrogance. He’s that guy — the one who gets chants and boos at opposing arenas, then smiles, hits a shot and blows a kiss. Starting with tomorrow’s game against Montana, Brazdeikis will be a focus for each of Michigan’s NCAA Tournament opponents, in more ways than one.

The Michigan men's basketball team will open the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night against Montana.

The Daily men’s basketball beat writers offer their predictions of Michigan’s postseason fate: