Michigan has done an excellent job of taking care of the ball.
The same can't be said about Charlotte.
The No. 14 Wolverines will be looking to exploit that edge when they meet the 49ers in Sunday night's matchup of 4-1 teams in the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Michigan owns one of the nation's best assist-to-turnover ratios at 1.84, and it had its best numbers in that department in an 82-80 overtime victory over Florida State in Friday's semifinals. The Wolverines had 19 assists to seven turnovers as they rallied from 16 points down in the second half.
''I think we just didn't want to go home with another loss on our chest. We came together as a team,'' freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. said. ''We stayed together the whole time and possession after possession we got stops and it paid off at the end.''
Charlotte has more turnovers (73) than assists (62) but also turned in its best effort in those categories Friday in an 86-77 victory over Northeastern with a season-high 17 assists to nine miscues. Reserve Shawn Lester scored a team-high 20 points and all of the starters also reached double digits.
"(I'm) just happy with the balance in scoring, I think we had six guys in double figures, which is great, 17 assists, nine turnovers against a team that kind of changed defenses," coach Alan Major said. "The fact that guys took care of the ball was very encouraging as well."
These are unfamiliar opponents since their only matchup came when the 49ers won 75-68 in the 1977 Mideast regional final to reach the Final Four for the first time. That doesn't mean that Charlotte doesn't command respect from last season's runner-ups.
"For them to do what they've done so far with those two wins (in Puerto Rico), beating Kansas State and then beating Northeastern handily I think in both of them, we got our hands full," Michigan coach John Beilein said.
Beilein is encouraged by what he has seen from Mitch McGary, who had 14 points and 12 boards Friday in his third game back after missing the first two due to a back injury. McGary logged 33 minutes against the Seminoles after totaling 36 over his first two contests.
''You could see it a couple of times he wasn't ready for the 33 minutes,'' Beilein said. ''He's so far (away), his timing and all those things are so far off. But he gives us some energy and some rebounding that few people in the country have right now.''
Michigan top scorer Nik Stauskas could be on his way to earning tournament MVP honors after averaging 25.0 points in the first two games. He scored 23 of his season-high 26 on Friday after halftime.
"We're calling on him a lot of times to make big plays and he's coming through," Beilein said.
The 49ers have won five of their last nine meetings with ranked foes. They are confident about winning an in-season tournament after capturing the Great Alaska Shootout last season.
"I think they've taken their Alaska experience from last year and hopefully transferred that into down here," Major said.
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