After just four games total on Monday and Tuesday, the NIT
got going with 16 games last night. Here is Daily basketball writer
Bob Hunt’s look at last night’s action and how it will
affect Michigan:

What’s next: The Wolverines (9-9 Big Ten, 19-11
overall) will play Oklahoma (9-9 Big XII, 20-10 overall) in the
second round of the NIT, after the Sooners knocked off LSU 70-61 in
Norman, Okla., last night. The date and time of the game have yet
to be determined, but it is unclear whether the Lloyd Noble Center
will be willing to host a second round NIT game because it will be
getting ready to host the NCAA Women’s Midwest Regional on
March 27 and 28.

The winner of the Michigan-Oklahoma game will play Nebraska,
Niagara or Hawaii in the Quarterfinals. The winner of that affair
will end up at Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals.
Michigan is the only Big Ten team remaining in the NIT as both Iowa
and Purdue lost in the first round.

How the Sooners got here: Following a Final Four
appearance last season, Oklahoma’s season had great promise
as the Sooners went 10-0 to start the year, and were the No. 6 team
in the nation. But their weak nonconference schedule (with the
exception of a win over Michigan State) was exposed in an 86-59
thrashing at Connecticut. The Sooners shot just 23 percent in the
first half of that game, which started the first of two four-game
losing streaks that destroyed their chances of making the NCAA
Tournament. Oklahoma was still on the bubble going into the Big XII
Tournament, but lost a heartbreaker to Texas in the
Quarterfinals.

What they do: The Sooners lost their two top rebounders,
Kevin Bookout and Jabahri Brown, over the course of the season.
Thus, Oklahoma wins and loses through the play of its guards:
senior Jason Detrick and 5-foot-7 freshman Drew Lavender. Neither
are good outside shooters, and Oklahoma ranks toward the bottom of
the Big XII in both rebounding and shooting percentage. Instead,
the duo tries to penetrate on offense and force turnovers on
defense. LSU’s turnover problems last night were a big factor
in its loss.. Freshman forward Brandon Foust, who went to the same
Columbus, Ohio, high school as Lavender, is also starting to break
out after a career-high performance.

How the Wolverines stack up: Michigan has been a
turnover-prone team all season and could be in trouble if it
continues that trend against Oklahoma. The Wolverines gave up easy
baskets to Illinois early in their Big Ten Tournament matchup and
were never able to recover. But Michigan should like its chances if
it can hold onto the basketball. Oklahoma lacks dominant post play,
so Courtney Sims and Chris Hunter should be able to create havoc
inside. Lavender’s ability to dribble penetrate and fire
high-arcing shots could be diminished by shot-blockers Sims and
Brent Petway. If Michigan can avoid turnovers, get the ball inside
and contain Detrick and Lavender, it could put itself in a position
for a victory.

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