Emily Roelant ‘20 Layout Director
This year, the 82 annual tournament of March Madness is scheduled to begin on March 17 and will conclude with the championship game on April 6 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. With two of the Big Ten (B10) teams in Michigan, do we have the chance to bring home the championship title?
Michigan State is among the teams that have been ranked No. 1 this year. Other teams include: Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor, and Kansas again. After losing one of their best players, Joshua Langford, due to an injury late last season, many did not know if the team would be able to recover, but with other standout players the team has really showed up.
Point guard Cassius Winston has had a lot going on for him this season in dealing with the death of his younger brother, but he has remained a strong leader of the team. Winston continues to show his leadership by being named the B10 player of the week at the end of February. Xavier Tillman Sr. is also a good threat to the opposing team when he is not in foul trouble. MSU coach Tom Izzo of 25 years, even mentioned that he “promises that Tillman is the best defender in the B10.” Guard Rocket Watts Jr. really helps out the team when he is having a good night.
Averaging 75.2 points per game, University of Michigan came out of nowhere this season and won the opening season Bahamas tournament, upsetting two ranked teams. At the beginning of this season, the team briefly climbed, before falling to below the middle of the B10. New head coach Juwan Howard signed a five year contract with Michigan this season. He was a part of the Fab Five in the 90s. Given this is Howard’s first head coaching job Michigan, this presents a major test for him. Some major stand out U of M players to watch for during March Madness are: top scorers Xavier Simpson and Isaiah Livers. Simpson is the Michigan point guard and just recently just had his highest scoring game of his career with 32 points made. Simpson continues to lead the nation with 7.9 assists per game and his 230 total assists are second in the country and he is inching towards the Michigan single-season record with 260 assists. Livers was hurt the majority of the season, but came back midway through February and is already helping out the team. After coming back from his injury the team went 3-0. Franz Wagner recently reigning the Big Ten Freshman of the Week title, has six straight double-figure games. During this stretch, he averaged a team best of 16.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He is shooting 59.3 percent from the court.
As you can tell, this article was previously written before March Madness was cancelled due to COVID-19. It will be interesting to see if these games will be played at a later date or if it is cancelled indefinitely. Stay safe SL and wash your hands.
Photo courtesy of mlive.com