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2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Michigan Meets Tennessee In First Round Action

The Big Ten takes to the court again this morning, as the eighth-seeded Michigan Wolverines will battle it out with the ninth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers in West Region action in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Over at Maize n Brew, they think that the Wolverines have a pretty tough match-up on their hands.

Going into the game I really don't know what to expect. I see a pair of teams seemingly going in opposite directions. Michigan comes in riding a wave of success that's carried them from nowhere to the tournament. Tennessee's gone from being ranked in the top ten early in the season to sort of backing into the Tournament. And it's not like there's a lot of good new floating around their program. Tennessee's Athletic Director, on the verge of his team's "second" round game, told the assembled media that he wasn't sure if head coach Bruce Pearl would be around the next year. Really? You're doing that to your team now? Um... thanks?

Still, in terms of talent, Tennessee would seem to hold a considerable edge. McDonald's All-Americans, four stars, etc., etc. But Michigan has played against those guys all season, and more often than not, come away with wins. Michigan came from nowhere because it plays like a team, not like a collection of ball players. When you saw their name called on Selection Sunday, they celebrated like they play, together. And for the Wolverines to move on, they've have to do more of the same against Tennessee.

Over at Rocky Top Talk, their thoughts are with Tennessee's embattled coach, Bruce Pearl.

In the fury of the moment, the goal that these players had when they came to Tennessee is still alive today.  We're dancing.  We're in.  Nothing else matters today except Michigan.  This team can still leave its mark.  All you have to do is win.

Today, Bruce Pearl is still the basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.  All that matters is today.  All he has to do is win.

And for us as afraid as I am of basketball ceasing to matter around here for the immediate future, it still matters today.  We're here.  We're in.  Even if the end of an era is creeping in all around us, it's not here yet.  This team can still matter.  And this season is not over yet.

I'm suddenly very aware of how very much I want to win this game.

So let's win.

Today, we're with you Coach.  We've always been with you.  And today is all that matters.

Go Vols.

It should be a good one, ladies and gentlemen. You can see this one on TruTV.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.