The Michigan Wolverines have been selected as a #1 seed in March Madness. The team certainly has a lot of important questions. When will Isaiah Livers return? Can Chaundee Brown and Mike Smith fill the void left by Livers? Can star freshman Hunter Dickinson stay out of foul trouble?
However, a question many are overlooking is: who will Michigan play in Round 1 of the Final Four? It is very easy to overlook this game. Obviously, a top seed is going up against a mid-major school who has to play in to even make the lowest berth. However, instead of guessing about if Mount St. Mary’s is actually a real mountain, see what these teams are all about…
Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (12-10, 9-7)
Location: Emmitsburg, Maryland –1 hour, 10 minutes from Baltimore
Conference: Northeast Conference (NEC) – 10-team private school D1-A
March Madness Appearances: 5 – 2-5 record, no wins after advancing past First Four
Fun Fact – Fred Carter, whose number 33 is retired by Mount St. Mary’s, is credited with popularizing the fist-bump.
Mount St. Mary’s is led by the 5-foot-8 Damian Chong-Qui. The junior guard averages 15.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, and an impressive 4.2 RPG considering his stature. The team has played against many smaller schools. However, they have Big Ten experience this season. MSM played in-state powerhouse Maryland in just their third game. The squad was only losing by nine at the half. However, poor bench scoring, paint defense, and second-half shooting allowed Maryland to win by 18 points. Defense isn’t exactly a strong suit for the Mount St. Mary’s squad. They have a razor-thin 1.4 scoring margin overall. They squeaked by their victories in the NEC tournament by six points apiece.
The marquee March Madness matchup will be Hunter Dickinson versus Malik Jefferson. The 6-foot-9, 230lb forward is the heaviest starter on the team and leads them in rebounds. It is likely the team will double the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. But, Dickinson’s 5 inch, 20lb advantage will surely see him perform well against the fellow big.
Texas Southern University Tigers (16-8, 10-3)
Location: Houston, Texas – about 10 minutes from where the Astros banged trash cans
Conference: Southwestern Athletic Conference – the same conference as Deion Sanders’ Jacksonville State
March Madness Appearances: 8 – 1-8 record, zero wins outside of the First Four, also 1-2 in the NIT
Fun Fact: University of Detroit Mercy HC Mike Davis coached Texas Southern from 2012-2018
Texas Southern has torn through their conference this season. Michael Weathers, a 6-foot-3 guard, leads the Tigers with 16.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.2 SPG. The team has a 5.1 scoring margin and shoots 45% from the field. They have also had more experience against high-D1 squads this season – and subsequently lost by a lot more. Texas Southern fell by double-digits to Washington State, BYU, Oklahoma State, and Auburn. The Tigers struggle with three-point shooting. The team hits a mere 27% from deep.
Because they are such an inside-scoring-dependent team, Hunter Dickinson and others will need to stay out of foul trouble. The marquee matchup will be Weathers against Chaundee Brown. The two are both lengthier guards, except Brown is much better from three.
The March Madness Round 1 Prediction:
While it really doesn’t matter, I like Texas Southern in this March Madness showdown. The team has superior defense and much more experience with high-major programs. However, regardless of matchup, Michigan is advancing to the round of 32.