Two of the best defenses remaining will face different challenges: Michigan in trying to contain Jarrett Culver, and Texas Tech in facing one of the nation’s best coaches, John Beilein. Can Chris Beard outcoach one of the greats and take Tech places that Bobby Knight and Tubby Smith couldn’t? Can Beilein, once known as an offensive wizard, find his players open shots?
Matchup to watch: Charles Matthews likely will guard Culver, and perhaps vice versa. Matthews never developed into a star, but if he limits Culver, Michigan wins.
X-factor: Michigan’s fan base travels and enjoys trips to warm-weather cities in the spring. Their fans could create a big home-court feel at Honda Center. Tech fans are preparing for the second most popular campus sport: spring football.
Three stars to watch
1. Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech: He should be one of the first dozen players drafted, meaning he could be a Timberwolf.
2. Iggy Brazdeikis, Michigan: Powerhouse forward who can shoot the three and dunk over opponents.
3. Jon Teske, Michigan: 7-1 center has improved dramatically but doesn’t always finish near the rim.
Texas Tech 58, Michigan 56. Culver will make the difference in a defensive struggle, unless Isaiah Livers comes off the Michigan bench and provides another big scoring surprise.