Unprecedented conditions lead to Whitmer warning: 'Do not have fires outside'

Michigan vs. Oklahoma State: Who has the edge?

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down the matchups for Friday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game between Michigan and Oklahoma State.


Michigan senior Derrick Walton Jr. and Oklahoma State sophomore Jawun Evans have been playing at an elite level throughout the second half of the season, particularly at the end. Walton averaged 25.5 points, eight assists and 5.5 rebounds in the Big Ten tournament semifinal and final, and Evans poured in 80 points and 25 assists over the last three games. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has been a steady presence alongside Walton, providing shut-down defense and a reliable 3-point shot, while Phil Forte gives the Cowboys an explosive 1-2 punch with Evans. Walton and Abdur-Rahkman have the NCAA Tournament experience, but Evans and Forte have the scoring prowess that’s hard to match. Edge: Oklahoma State


After juggling the lineup and using different combinations, the Cowboys have started Leyton Hammonds (6-foot-8) and Mitchell Solomon (6-9) at the four and five the last 16 games. Solomon is Oklahoma State’s best defender but hasn’t had to guard a stretch five like Moritz Wagner. D.J. Wilson (6-10) and Wagner (6-11) will have a distinct height advantage for once, making it easier to shoot over the top in the post and on the perimeter. Oklahoma State wing Jeffrey Carroll is multi-dimensional and coming off back-to-back 20-plus point games, but Zak Irvin is riding high after hitting several clutch baskets in the Big Ten tournament, and will be motivated playing close to home. Edge: Michigan


Oklahoma State first-year coach Brad Underwood has done more with less in the NCAA Tournament. In three seasons at Stephen F. Austin, he guided the Jackrabbits to two first-round upsets and a near Sweet 16 appearance last year. Michigan coach John Beilein has fared even better in the opening-round game, advancing five out of the six times with the Wolverines. With both coaches orchestrating two highly efficient offensive teams, Michigan has steadily picked it up on the defensive end and is capable of getting key stops at critical times, which likely will be the difference in the game. The Wolverines also are rolling into the matchup as confident as ever and on a season-high five-game win streak, while the Cowboys enter on a three-game slide. Edge: Michigan


Oklahoma State and Michigan are two of the nation’s top five efficient offenses but get it done in different ways. The Cowboys lead the nation in offensive efficiency by relying on an uptempo attack and transition game, whereas the Wolverines rank fifth and are 339th (out of 351 teams) in tempo and 335th in average possession length (19.5 seconds). If it turns into a track meet, it won’t favor Michigan. If the Wolverines proved anything in the Big Ten tournament it’s that Beilein can adjust midgame and they can rely on their defense for stretches at a time, as evident by holding Purdue to 1-for-8 shooting in overtime and Wisconsin without a made field goal over the first eight minutes of the second half. Michigan 80, Oklahoma State 75.