KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When No. 6 seed Michigan and No. 3 seed Tennessee square off in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday, you'll see two pretty similar teams battle it out for a spot in the Sweet 16.
The Lady Vols work from the inside out, scoring in the paint, taking timely threes, attacking the glass and using their height and length to cause problems defensively.
The Wolverines work from the inside out, scoring in the paint, taking timely threes, attacking the glass and using their height and length to cause problems defensively.
See what we're getting at?
Michigan's scoring duo might be just as terrifying as Tennessee's. Naz Hillmon averages 24.6 points per game while Leigha Brown averages 17.6, compare that to Rennia Davis (17.5 ppg) and Rae Burrell (17.0 ppg). The difference comes in how these players score. Davis has the ability to shoot from deep (even though she's shooting a career low 27 percent from three this season) and Burrell has the ability to score with quick drives or from the perimeter (shooting 40.4 percent from downtown). Meanwhile, Michigan's dynamic duo is all about the paint: Hillmon gets just about anything she wants near the rim, shooting 62.5 percent from the field on nearly 300 shots this season. The Big Ten Player of the Year even dropped 50 points this year against Ohio State.
"Naz Hillman is really good; she's not the player of the year for no reason. She is incredible in how she works to get the ball in scoring position, she's incredible when she gets the ball to score, and she's incredible in getting on the boards. So, I think she is going to be a handful for our post players," Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said on Monday.
The Robin to her Batman, Leigha Brown, has been able to carry Michigan at big moments this season as well. You don't have to do any farther than the first round game against No. 11 seed Florida Gulf Coast. After leading only by two at halftime, Brown scored 19 points in the third quarter, putting some distance between the Wolverines and the Eagles.
"I think our post defense will be critical to this game. Like I said earlier, we've got our hands full. We'll have to see if we can go one-on-one, and we may have to find ways to double team and ways to help them out," Harper said.
With a win on Tuesday, Tennessee will get to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016. This will be the first time the Lady Vols have played Michigan in women's basketball. UT is 28-2 all-time in the second round, with both losses coming in 2017 and 2018.