"A Michigan-Notre Dame rematch would get their juices going," Brey said about his players. "Certainly it was a great game last time they were here. We had a chance to close out and we didn't. I can see them being excited. The Michigan-Notre Dame match-up…there is some juice to that."
This scenario will play itself out on Monday night. With a win over UTEP last Thursday, the Wolverines play host to the Irish in Crisler Arena in a NIT Second Round game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Michigan beat the Miners 82-67 behind 20 points from Chris Hunter and are the top seed in this part of the NIT bracket.
The first time these two teams met this year, a classic was played at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame went up 65-60 on a Chris Quinn three-pointer with three minutes remaining in the contest. That's when the fun ended for the Irish. Michigan ended the game on an 11-2 run to get out of South Bend with a 71-67 win.
The final few possessions foreshadowed the story of the season for Notre Dame. With the game tied at 67 and under 20 seconds left, Wolverine guard Daniel Horton drove left and was double-teamed by the Irish. That left Dion Harris wide open, who received a pass from Horton and calmly drained a shot from the left baseline to put Michigan up 69-67. A Quinn floater in the lane that could have sent the game into overtime rimmed around and fell out to complete the contest. Quinn led all Notre Dame scorers with 26 points while fellow senior Torin Francis notched a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds. The downfall for the Irish: they shot just 30 percent (6-of-20) from three-point land and committed 14 turnovers.
For the Wolverines, Horton has made his senior season truly a special one. The 6'3" guard led Michigan by scoring 17 points per game and dishing out five assists a contest. Big man Courtney Sims patrols the paint by chipping in 11 PPG and hauling down six rebounds. Harris and Lester Abram both average double figures in points while scrappy senior Graham Brown leads Michigan in rebounds (seven a game). 6'8" junior forward Brent Petway, who did not play in the first meeting because of a suspension, is back and can cause problems with his athleticism and jumping ability.
The Wolverines saw their bubble burst on Selection Sunday when the NCAA Committee decided they were not worthy to be in the Big Dance. Two things could have happened. Michigan could have gone in the tank and played dead in the NIT or proved people wrong and show them they deserved entry to the field of 65. By the look of their first round contest, the Wolverines responded in big fashion. In the win over UTEP last Thursday, Michigan placed four starters in double figures and assisted on 23 of 29 made shots.