Pitino on Michigan: 'We're playing Golden State Warriors'

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Indianapolis — Michigan has drawn plenty of attention over the past week.

Now, it’s starting to draw some pretty strong praise.

In setting a program record and tying the Big Ten record with 16 made 3-pointers in a 92-91 win Friday over No. 10 seed Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the seventh-seeded Wolverines made quite the impression on Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

Michigan and No. 2 seed Louisville, a 78-63 winner over No. 15 seed Jacksonville State, will meet in the round of 32 Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It will be a rematch of the 2013 national title game.

“We’re playing against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday,” Pitino said. “I watched the second half. I’ve never seen shooting like that since I’ve been a coach. It’s incredible the way they shoot the basketball.

“And it looks like it’s going in the moment it leaves the hands, so it’s going to be a tough task for us.”

Wojo: Derrick Walton is Michigan's man on a mission

After struggling from beyond the arc in first half, Michigan shot a blistering 73.3 percent (11-for-15) from 3-point range in the second half, highlighted by senior guard Derrick Walton Jr.’s five 3-pointers.

The 3-point barrage propelled Michigan to 51 points and 64-percent shooting (16-for-25) in the final 20 minutes. The Wolverines finished 51.8 percent (29-for-56) from the field and 55.2 percent (16-for-29) from 3-point range for the game.

“We know what we’re in for. It will be the toughest second-round matchup I’ve had since I’ve been in this business,” Pitino said. “They’re a great basketball team. I’ve seen them in person lose to my son (Minnesota coach Richard Pitino).

“But since that point, seeing them in person, they are an entirely different basketball team. And they’re lethal, and they’re on a great run right now.”

Pitino also noted Louisville’s lack of backcourt depth and experience heading into the matchup against Michigan.

“To show you how inexperienced we are, one of my players said there’s a lady in the huddle stealing our plays, (CBS sideline reporter) Tracy (Wolfson),” Pitino said. “They thought she was giving it to the other team.”

Michigan coach John Beilein and Pitino last coached against one another in the 2013 national championship, when the Cardinals bested the Wolverines, 82-76, for the title.

The two also squared off three times when Beilein was at West Virginia. Beilein only won one of the meetings, which included an overtime loss in the Elite Eight 2005 and a double-overtime loss in the Big East tournament in 2007.

“We’ve always had bizarre games. I’m not sure if he was at West Virginia when we won the Big East championship at that time, but then he had a group — talk about shooting, we had seven guys,” Pitino said. “Our seventh man, Otis George, had a stress fracture. We played no man. We couldn’t press the whole season. We just played two-three bumping zone, and his team made 11 3s before half. And his son (Patrick) made two from the logo in Albuquerque, from the Wolf.

“At halftime, we were fortunate enough to win in overtime. We played them in the Big East in the quarter, semifinals and finals. We played them in a great game in 2013. My respect for him as a basketball coach is off the charts. His teams are fun to watch, well coached, well drilled. He will turn it over. It’s going to be a heck of a game.”

7 Michigan vs. 2 Louisville

When: Sunday, 12:10 p.m.

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

TV / radio: CBS / WWJ 950

Records: Michigan 25-11, Louisville 25-8

At stake: Spot in Midwest Regional semifinals against Oregon-Rhode Island winner.


Twitter.com: @jamesbhawkins