Tennessee vs. Michigan Preview

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Volunteers look to keep the Southeastern Conference perfect in the NCAA Tournament. But to do it, they will have to get by the prodigiously potent Michigan Wolverines.

Friday night should prove to be an interesting night for the Southeastern Conference in the city of Indianapolis.

Nap Town will play host to two games featuring SEC teams, as Kentucky plays Louisville in a Commonwealth State battle that all eyes will be laid upon. But the appetizer to this feature bout should provide dramatics and quality basketball, as well.

After dismissing Iowa, UMass and Mercer last week, the 11-seed Tennessee Volunteers now take aim at one of the Big Ten's best. The Michigan Wolverines, a 2-seed in the Midwest Region, are the next opponent for the Vols and these two teams certainly have history inside the NCAA Tournament. The two played against one another in 2011 and it was a 30-point blowout in favor of John Beilein's Wolverines in the city of Charlotte.

Those who remain from that game played limited minutes. Jordan McRae and Jeronne Maymon, two of the Vols' key contributors, played a combined three minutes in that 2nd Round matchup three years ago. For Michigan, it was more or less the same as Jon Horford played just one minute. Now, three years later, all three have made impacts of their own and they are joined by several players who have broken out in big ways.

Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert come to mind as players who have significantly helped the Michigan Wolverines. Stauskas, the Big Ten's Player of the Year, has been a dynamic scorer and assist man the entire way. LeVert has been exactly what Stauskas was a season ago: a three-point specialist whose game only seems to be improving as time goes on. With any luck, LeVert could very well be what Stauskas is next season and keep up the success that the Michigan program has achieved in the last few years.

For Tennessee, McRae and Maymonn have been stellar in Tennessee's victories in the NCAA Tournament thus far. McRae has averaged 18.3 points in Tennessee's three victories, including back-to-back 20-point performances to open up The Big Dance. Maymonn meanwhile has averaged only 8.67 points in the three Volunteer victories, but has also averaged 8.67 rebounds in those three victories, including an 11-rebound night in the Vols' victory over UMass.

Keep your eyes on Glenn Robinson III and Jarnell Stokes for the Wolverines and Vols respectively. The man they call GRIII has had an excellent start to the NCAA Tournament, opening many eyes in Ann Arbor as he perhaps is turning the corner in performing at a high level away from the Crisler Center. Meanwhile, Stokes remains one of Cuonzo Martin's key contributors, racking up a usage rate of 26.1 percent.

In all, expect a high-octane showing with both offenses being near the top in the country.

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