As much as he's trying to avoid it, Sunday's NCAA tournament game against MI will be meaningful for Jaylen Johnson. The Wolverines were balanced and explosive but anything can be the difference in one point contest and their 13-26 performance from the arc catching my eye. Derrick Walton Jr. put up 26 points and 11 assists while hitting six three pointers. Louisville (ranked seventh in ESPN's RPI rankings) dominated No. 15 Jacksonville State, 78-63, winning the battle on the glass, 36-23. He's about as hot as anyone right now, scoring over 20 points in three straight while averaging 9 assists per game in that span as well.
Louisville advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after a brief test from Jacksonville State. In the meantime, the ACC doesn't have any regional semifinalists yet and is down to just two teams left in the tournament: North Carolina and Duke.
Winners of seven consecutive games, MI (26-11) is one of the most risky teams left in the Sweet 16, especially if Walton is able to get back on track.
Midwest Region: No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (25-11) vs. Although the stakes won't be as high when the two teams meet on Sunday, it is for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Michigan-Louisville will be a tale of a great offensive team facing a great defensive team. In the Big Ten tournament final, Walton hit four 3-pointers.
Louisville: The Cardinals head home empty-handed and with a 12-1 record as a No. 2 seed. The Cardinals won the rebounding war (24-16) and Mangok Mathiang scored seven points in as many minutes on strong shooting (3-of-4). On its third attempt with the lead, U-M got the ball in play, and Walton showed his leadership with a gutsy take to the rim and a 69-65 advantage with now less than 30 seconds remaining.
Johnson laughed about the story on Saturday, insisting that, more than three years later, it didn't matter.
After the win, MI coach John Beilein drenched his players in the locker room to celebrate their unlikely journey to the Midwest regional in Kansas City.