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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Michigan becomes first team to win in NCAAs without hitting a free throw

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

Well, Tennessee can't possibly blame the refs for this one.

The Vols were wiped off of the bracket in ugly 75-45 fashion by Michigan on Friday morning in Charlotte, N.C. In the process, the Wolverines became the first team to ever win an NCAA tournament game without hitting a single free throw.

Heck, they only attempted one.

It's fitting that a John Beilein team would be the first to win in the NCAAs without the need of the charity stripe. His offensive approach is predicated on waves of outside shots and big men who are equally as effective away from the hoop as they are standing under it.

After Tennessee mentally shrunk and collapsed in the game's second half, Michigan poured in 42 points off of 64 percent shooting. The Wolverines ripped off a 19-2 run after the intermission that ultimately broke the Vols and created a 21-point margin on the scoreboard.

The statistical anomaly was simply a combination of Michigan executing Beilein's system to perfection and, really, sheer coincidence, as the Wolverines kept firing up jumpers and the Vols really didn't seem to want to try on defense.

That notion was backed up by freshman forward Tobias Harris, whose words after the game that may end the Tennessee career of embattled coach Bruce Pearl were a bit cryptic.

"Well, we just didn't play with no heart out there," he said. "I mean, Michigan came out, made shots, and we just did a terrible job of trying to cover them and on the offensive end we rushed too many shots and, you know, basically you just quit."

UT allowed Michigan to chuck up 64 shot attempts and 26 of them from 3-point range, and had no one to blame but itself when 33 of them fell through.

Had the Wolverines actually attempted a normal dose of free throws, believe it or not, the end result could have looked that much worse.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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