2018 was one of the wildest NCAA Tournament’s ever. From #1 Virginia’s first-round exit, to 11-seed Loyola-Chicago streaking to the Final Four, and everything in between, it was a crazy tournament with some insane games. One such game occured on St. Patricks’ Day, when Michigan, a 3-seed, took on Houston, the sixth seed, in a Round of 32 matchup.
- The Setup
The game took place in the West Regional, which had seen #1 Xavier and #2 North Carolina fall, meaning that the winner of this game had as good a shot as anybody had surviving the region. Michigan was coming off a sluggish victory over #14 Montana, albeit still a 14-point win, while Houston had barely survived in a 67-65 win over San Diego State. The winner would be facing #7 Texas A&M in the Sweet 16.
- How it went down
The first half was relatively defensive, and no buckets were scored in the final 1:55 of game time. After claiming an early lead, Houston let Michigan climb back in front, and then the two teams jockeyed for an advantage before heading to the locker room tied at 28 points apiece. The second half was much of the same, as neither team could seize control. Houston had the biggest lead of the game, as, spurred on by spectacular offense from Rob Gray, they scratched out a six-point advantage at 49-43. The Wolverines answered with an 8-2 run to knot the score back up, and the tug-of-war battle continued.
With 44 seconds remaining, Devin Davis of Houston hit a pair of shots from the charity stripe, giving Houston a 62-61 lead. However, down the stretch, Davis hit just 1 of 4 from the line, giving Houston just a 63-61 lead, with four seconds remaining. Michigan got the ball quickly down the court and to Jordan Poole, a substitute who had just five points in the game. With the final seconds draining from the game clock, Poole rose up for a three and buried it, ripping Houston’s hearts out and sending Michigan onto the Sweet 16.
- The Aftermath
Poole’s shot spurred the Wolverines on a deep March Madness run, as they dispelled three Cinderella stories in short order, decimating Texas A&M in the Sweet 16, edging past #9 Florida State in the Elite 8, and handling Loyola Chicago by twelve points in the Final Four. Their spirited charge through the bracket came one step short of a happy ending, as they ran into the Villanova machine in the national championship and lost by 17.
Houston did take the next step in 2019, as they put together a strong campaign and earned a 3-seed, advancing to the Sweet 16 before falling to Kentucky. They were headed for a third straight NCAA Tournament berth, a feat they haven’t accomplished since dancing four straight times from 1981-1984.
- Notable NBA Players
Houston – None
Michigan – Moritz Wagner (Wizards), Duncan Robinson (Heat), Jordan Poole (Warriors)