Mar 17, 2023 - Sports

Michigan women's basketball hoping for another deep March Madness run

Leigha Brown celebrates a 3-pointer in the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

Leigha Brown celebrates a three-pointer in the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

A pessimist would say that Michigan women's basketball losing to the top four teams in the Big Ten this season is a bad sign for the NCAA Tournament.

  • An optimist might say that losing to Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Ohio State was just the experience this veteran team needed for a long tournament run.

Why it matters: A year after making the Elite Eight for the first time in program history, Michigan is back with a little less fanfare as a No. 6 seed.

  • The team takes on UNLV Friday at 3pm on ESPNU.

State of play: While the Wolverines miss the presence of Naz Hillmon, arguably the best player in program history who now plays in the WNBA, their offense has diversified this season.

  • Three players — fifth-year guard Leigha Brown, sophomore guard Laila Phelia and fifth-year forward Emily Kiser — all average over 16 points per game.
  • Both veterans could be drafted this spring and Phelia could become a contender for Big Ten player of the year before leaving Ann Arbor.

What we're watching: Phelia missed the final seven games of the regular season with a lower-body injury and then played limited minutes in the Big Ten Tournament, per the Free Press.

  • If healthy, this team should be able to get by UNLV, and has the experience to make things competitive against host school LSU in the second round.
  • If Phelia isn't back in full, coach Kim Barnes Arico could have a problem.
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