Gonzaga was probably anticipating a date with No. 6 North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game, but Michigan left no doubt it belonged in the championship after an impressive 73-64 win over the Tar Heels.
Even more impressive for the soon-to-be-ranked Wolverines: They handled UNC with point guard Zavier Simpson and leading scorer Isaiah Livers not at the top of their games.
Simpson, a senior who directs the offense, played just 17 minutes due to foul trouble but managed to put up seven points and six rebounds. Livers, who averages 16.3 points, fouled out after scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Simpson was outstanding in Michigan’s first five games. He entered Thursday’s game leading the nation at 9.8 assists. He contributes 12.2 points per game but makes 60.4% of his shots, including 43.8% on 3-pointers.
Simpson and Gonzaga’s Ryan Woolridge will be a matchup of speedy, pass-first point guards with an ability to score if necessary. Both are playing their third game in three days, so they won’t have fresh legs. Woolridge also is battling a sore right knee but played 41 minutes in Thursday’s win over Oregon and did a nice job defensively on standout point guard Payton Pritchard.
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