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Michigan and Texas Tech will battle in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament Thursday, March 28, 2019 in Anaheim, Calif. Let’s meet the Red Raiders.
Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press

John Beilein knows the defense he’s about to see Thursday in Anaheim is as good as it gets in college basketball. 

But he also knows Michigan played 20 games in the Big Ten this year, winning 15. And along the way, saw plenty of top-level defenses that could defend all five positions in a variety of ways. 

Texas Tech enters Thursday’s West Region semifinal game against the Wolverines as the No. 1-rated defensive efficiency unit, per Ken Pomeroy. 

Michigan coach John Beilein during the first half against Florida in the NCAA tournament Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

A huge test? Yes. Something shockingly new? No. 

“This is a mixture of a very veteran team, probably one of the more veteran teams we’ll see all year long,” Beilein said Tuesday on WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor. “They’ve got that good mixture of guys who have been around and hungry to win. Not coddled guys just trying out for the NBA. They’re trying to win. Had a successful year in a tough Big 12. 

“It’ll be interesting to see how we react. Their defense is terrific. In the Big Ten, we see a lot of terrific defenses. So it won’t be a shock to us, won’t be easy either. … We’ll have to play better than we did in games we lost against those really good defenses.” 

To Beilein’s point, nine Big Ten teams (including Michigan) posted defensive efficiency numbers ranked inside the top 30. 

The Wolverines just got through a round of 32 game against a Florida team that ranked No. 14. Michigan has seen terrific defense all season. Perhaps none as good as Texas Tech, but great defenses all the same. 

And, for Beilein, the most important piece will be how his offense reacts. 

The Wolverines spoke quite a bit last week about making sure the “my bads” started to disappear on offense. Shot selection. Not valuing each possession throughout a 40 minute game. 

During two NCAA tournament games in Iowa, Beilein thought his team responded. And hopes the overall offensive IQ stays on the rise moving forward. 

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