Preview and prediction for Michigan women's basketball vs. Kansas in NCAA tournament

Michigan women's basketball is back in the NCAA tournament and will take on Kansas in the first round on Saturday. Here's our preview and prediction for the Wolverines.

Michigan guard Laila Phelia (5) drives to the basket Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) during the Big
Michigan guard Laila Phelia (5) drives to the basket Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) during the Big / Lily Smith/The Register / USA TODAY

The last time we saw the Michigan women's basketball team, they were knocked out of the Big Ten semifinals by Caitlin Clark. But on Saturday, they will aim for their fourth consecutive season with an NCAA tournament win as they take on Kansas in the first round in Los Angeles.

Michigan women's basketball vs. Kansas Preview & Prediction

Michigan made the tournament as a No. 9 seed. They are in the bracket as No. 1 seeded USC, which is the likely opponent for the Wolverines with a win. Kansas won the women's NIT a season ago and has a bunch of veterans along with stellar freshman S'Mya Nichols. She is the leading scorer for the Jayhawks with 15.2 points per game. She also averages 2.7 assists.

I'd expect Laila Phelia to get the assignment for Michigan women's basketball. Phelia is a super-talented player and was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection. She's the Wolverines leading scorer at 16.8 points per game. She's also a stellar defender.

Michigan women's basketball is a capable 3-point shooting team. Lauren Hansen leads the way two triples per game. She also shoots 37.5 percent from deep. Pheila, Elissa Brett, and Jordan Hobbs all average more than one 3-point make per game and all shoot better than 32 percent. Kansas ranks 239th in 3-point defense so that should be a focal point for the Wolverines.

Their defense will also be a focal point. Both teams average just under 70 points per game. Michigan struggles with turnovers but they also force 16 per game. Winning the turnover battle will be key but so will knocking down perimeter shots. Cameron Williams is also going to be a key player off the bench inside for U-M.

How to watch/prediction

The game between Kansas and Michigan women's basketball will tip off at 2 PM EST on ESPNNews. As far as our prediciton, I've learned not to bet against Kim Barnes Arico. She's won a game in her last five NCAA tournaments as a head coach. She gives the Wolverines an edge and Michigan women's basketball has played well of late, recently beating a ranked Indiana team.


The Wolverines are also used to the NCAA tournament. Kansas isn't and that experience will play a factor as the Wolverines beat the Jayhawks to advance 68-64.