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March 16, 2014

Beilein, Wolverines wary of Wofford

Michigan will face Wofford as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest bracket, and while John Beilein didn't know much about the Terriers (20-12, third Southern League), he planned to know more by this morning. His assistants would have film on his computer last night, he said following U-M's Big Ten Tournament loss.

Beilein shook off talk that Sunday's setback to Michigan State would shake his team's confidence.

"No. You're going to have days like that," he said. "We saw it in our loss to Iowa, at Indiana, Wisconsin at home. You credit the other team and move on, don't make excuses."

The Spartans did expose one relative weakness, though, that can't be disputed - the lack of big man depth. Redshirt sophomore Max Bielfeldt was forced into action when big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford (who has been struggling lately) were sidelined with foul trouble. U-M couldn't keep the Spartans off the glass and didn't shoot well enough to compensate.

As for the bracket - featuring Wichita State, Duke and Louisville - it will be tough, sophomore Nik Stauskas noted, but the Wolverines pulled out plenty of close games during the season that should help them if they're in a similar position in the tournament, which is almost always the case.

Beilein insisted he didn't look beyond Wofford and a potential round of 32 matchup with either Texas or Arizona State.

"The seeding thing, people talk about one, two, three and four seeds - none of us coaches really care about that, or at least this coach doesn't," he said. "Just like the 13, 14 or 15 seeds. They just want to be in this tournament.

"We're playing a good Wofford team. The Southern Conference has had Davidson, and we all know how well they've done in this tournament. Darris Nichols is one of their assistant coaches and was one of the smartest, brightest point guards we ever had [at West Virginia]. Now I wish he really didn't understand our offense at all, but he knows everything about it. Now we have a challenge with a guy on the other bench who knows a lot what we do."

U-M opens in Milwaukee and would head back to Indianapolis with two wins, where Duke would likely await. Louisville, Wichita State or perhaps even No. 8 Kentucky would be a decent bet to emerge in a potential Elite Eight battle.

Beating Wofford is the first step, though, and it comes Thursday at 7:10 in Milwaukee.

"The NCAA has been so good the last couple years finding teams and getting them close to home without being in their home arena," Beilein said. "We have great fans all throughout the footprint of the Big Ten, but particularly in that Chicago area. Hopefully we really draw well and get many of our faithful up there."


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