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Michigan women vs Kansas in March Madness: Prediction for 2024 NCAA tournament

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Michigan women vs Kansas in March Madness: Prediction for 2024 NCAA tournament


Michigan women’s basketball vs. Kansas

Breaking down the Portland 3 region first-round game between No. 9-seed Michigan and 8-seed Kansas:

Records: Michigan (20-13, 9-9 Big Ten); Kansas (19-12, 11-7).

Fast facts: 2 p.m. Saturday; Galen Center, Los Angeles.

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TV: ESPNEWS.

At stake: Winner faces winner of 1-seed Southern Cal vs. 16-seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for spot in Sweet 16 in Portland, Oregon on March 29-30.

PRINT YOUR BRACKET: March Madness schedule, how to watch the NCAA tournament

About U-M

Location: Ann Arbor.

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Coach: Kim Barnes Arico (12 seasons at U-M, 261-132 at U-M, 437-266 career).

School tournament record: 11-11 over 11 appearances.

Past 10 regular-season games: 5-5.

Scoring leaders: Laila Phelia, 16.8 points per game; Lauren Hansen, 11.9; Jordan Hobbs, 9.9.

Rebounding leaders: Cameron Williams, 4.78 rebounds per game; Chyra Evans, 4.3; Elissa Brett, 4.2

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Assist leaders: Hobbs, 3 assists per game; Hansen, 2.2; Phelia, 1.9.

3-point leaders: Hobbs, 39.1%; Greta Kampschroeder, 38%; Hansen, 37.5%.

The buzz: The Wolverines struggled all season to get momentum; after winning seven of their first eight, they didn’t win more than two in a row until March. That most recent streak featured a regular-season-ending victory over Purdue, a Big Ten tourney-opening win over Minnesota in Minneapolis and then a shocking rally over then-No. 12 Indiana on March 8. U-M was arguably on the bubble — and falling fast — when it fell behind the Hoosiers by 17 points early in the second half. But suddenly, all the pieces clicked for the Wolverines, as Phelia’s downhill game opened up Hansen to fire away from beyond the arc. Phelia had 20 of her career-high 30 points in the second half as U-M beat Indiana by 13. As Barnes Arico observed: “I think Laila Phelia showed why she’s one of the best players in the country, and I thought she did a tremendous job late when they started to really double her and try to load on her of finding Lauren. Lauren is one of the best shooters in the country, one of the best playmakers in the country. So they found each other.” When the Wolverines are hitting their 3s — and U-M enters the tourney at 35.3%, good for 37th in the nation — they can hang with anyone. Just ask title contender Iowa, which knocked U-M out of the Big Ten tourney last week: Michigan hit its first seven 3s and led the Hawkeyes by three after the first quarter, despite getting torched in the paint. Iowa won by 27, but that was an uncharacteristic defensive performance by the Wolverines, who led the Big Ten defensively.

About Kansas

Location: Lawrence, Kansas.

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Coach: Brandon Schneider (126-148 in nine seasons at KU; 222-214 in 14 seasons overall).

School tournament record: 14-14 in 14 appearances.

Past 10 games: 8-2.

Scoring leaders: S’Mya Nichols, 15.2 points per game; Taiyanna Jackson, 12.6; Zakiyah Franklin, 11.7; Holly Kersgieter, 11.7.

Rebounding leaders: Jackson, 9.8 rebounds per game; Kersgieter, 5; Ryan Cobbins, 4.1.

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Assist leaders: Nichols, 2.7 assists per game; Wyvette Mayberry, 2.3; Franklin, 2.2.

3-point leaders: Kersgieter, 41.5%; Nichols, 40.8%; McKenzie Smith, 33.3%.

The buzz: Schneider landed a program-changing recruit in Nichols, a five-star guard from Overland Park, Kansas (near Kansas City, Missouri). The No. 5 guard in the class of 2023, and a member of the under-18 U.S. national team, the 6-footer has scored in double digits in 27 of her 31 appearances this season, including 29 points against Oklahoma in Kansas’ season finale and 13 points in the Jayhawks’ win over Big Ten runner-up Nebraska on Dec. 20. Nichols didn’t win the conference’s top freshman award, but did finish on the All-Freshman team as well as first-team All-Big 12. The Jayhawks also have a tower of experience in senior center Taiyanna Jackson, who averaged a double-double — 15.2 points and 12.7 points iin 31.7 minutes per game — before taking a step back this season. At 6-6, the East Chicago, Indiana, native is a game-changer in the middle as a two-time All-Big 12 first-teamer and a three-time All-Defense team member in the conference, averaging 3.1 blocks and 1.3 steals a game for her career. The Jayhawks were one of the nation’s hottest teams, winning eight of nine games from Jan. 31-March 8 before finally sputtering out in the Big 12 semifinals against No. 6 Texas, largely because they shot just 38% from the field and were outrebounded, 37-24.

Prediction

Barnes Arico won’t have to stretch far to scout the Jayhawks, who play an inside-out game much like the Wolverines. They’re not quite as accomplished at it, though, shooting just 32.8% beyond the arc (102nd in the nation) and managing just 34.3 boards a game (273rd). If U-M’s Cameron Williams can hold her own in the middle, the Wolverines’ outside shooters should be enough to send them on to face USC and star freshman JuJu Watkins in the second round. The pick: U-M 70, Kansas 65.



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Michigan looks to set new NFL draft record: Players, preview, prediction

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Michigan looks to set new NFL draft record: Players, preview, prediction


Jim Harbaugh was thinking about this weekend’s NFL draft nearly a year ago, when he told a group of reporters last summer that Michigan had a chance to beat Georgia.

Not just on the football field (it never happened, with UGA unable to reach a third straight College Football Playoff), but when it come to the draft itself.

You see, not only were the Bulldogs the big dog in college football having won back-to-back national titles, but the program set the seven-round draft record in 2022 with 15 players taken.

Michigan hopes to top that number this year and set a new draft record. A total of 18 players were invited to the annual NFL Scouting Combine this spring (list below), making the feat a real possibility.

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“Excited for their futures and what they’re going to do,” first-year Michigan coach Sherrone Moore, who took over for the departed Harbaugh, said this week. “We still got guys working. Saw Blake (Corum) this morning; I see Roman (Wilson) out here working. The guys aren’t satisfied with potentially being drafted.”

Draft weekend schedule:

■ Thursday — Round 1, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC/NFL Network)

■ Friday — Rounds 2-3, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC/NFL Network)

■ Saturday — Rounds 4-7, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC/NFL Network)

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Looking to head downtown to take in the draft live? Read MLive’s A-to-Z guide.

Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil (0) celebrates a play during the Rose Bowl against Alabama in Pasadena, California on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.Neil Blake | MLive.com

A complete list Michigan’s 22 draft-eligible players:

• QB J.J. McCarthy

• RB Blake Corum

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• WR Cornelius Johnson

• WR Roman Wilson

• WR Zach Peterson

• TE AJ Barner

• OL Karsen Barnhart

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• OL LaDarius Henderson

• OL Trente Jones

• OL Trevor Keegan

• OL Drake Nugent

• OL Zak Zinter

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• DL Jaylen Harrell

• DL Kris Jenkins

• DL Braiden McGregor

• DL Cam Goode

• LB Michael Barrett

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• LB Junior Colson

• DB Mike Sainristil

• DB Josh Wallace

• DB German Green

• K James Turner

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Penn State vs Michigan, Nov. 11, 2023

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy throws during the first quarter on Nov. 11, 2023.
Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.comJoe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

HOW SOON WILL J.J. MCCARTHY GO?

That’s the No. 1 question facing the Michigan contingent, and one of the overriding storylines of Thursday’s first round. While Caleb Williams is the consensus top pick to the Chicago Bears, and Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye are expected to follow in some order with the second and third picks, J.J. McCarthy has steadily risen up draft boards in recent months. He went from a fringe first-round prospect when he declared back in January to a top-15 pick quickly. And recent mock drafts all believe McCarthy remains a priority target for the Minnesota Vikings (No. 11) to trade up and take him inside the top 10, maybe even at No. 4.

At 6-foot-2 and 219 pounds, McCarthy possesses the skillset and athletic traits of a franchise quarterback. He can make every throw, fit the football into tight windows and win, evident by his 27-1 record as a starter at Michigan. But critics say he hasn’t shown enough to warrant a high pick, with the Wolverines electing to run the football nearly 60 percent of the time. His passing volume (2,991 yards, 22 TDs) was nowhere near the top in college football, making him an unknown when it comes to having to carry an offense.

More: There’s a consensus landing spot for J.J. McCarthy in this year’s NFL draft

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with Michigan offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson (73) after beating Alabama 27-20 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.Neil Blake | MLive.com

JIM HARBAUGH’S IMPACT ON THE DRAFT

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Before, Jim Harbaugh could call up an NFL team and vouch for a player who once played on his roster. Now he’s the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, who possess the No. 5 pick, and has an opportunity to help influence where his former players wind up going. There’s plenty of speculation out there that the Chargers could look to trade out of their pick to acquire additional draft capital, potentially paving the way for a team to slide up and take McCarthy, the former Michigan quarterback.

And then there’s the real possibility that Harbaugh’s Chargers wind up drafting a Michigan player in later rounds. With a staff comprised of several former Michigan assistants, no one in the NFL has more intimate knowledge of the Wolverines. The Chargers even went out and signed former Michigan fullback Ben Mason, a reminder that if Harbaugh likes you and thinks you can help him win, he’ll go out of his way to bring you aboard.

Michigan plays Washington in 2024 national championship

Washington wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk (2) tries to outrun Michigan linebacker Junior Colson (25) in the national championship at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.Neil Blake | MLive.com

UNDER-THE-RADAR SURPRISES

While McCarthy is the only sure-fire first-round pick of the bunch, Michigan has several players being talked about as under-the-radar surprises. Junior Colson ranks as one of the best inside linebackers available in this draft, making him an early-Day 2 prospect, while defensive back Mike Sainristil reportedly won over NFL teams during the draft lead-up. Expect both players to hear their name called on Friday.

Day 2 could wind up being a busy one for the Michigan crew, with offensive lineman Zak Zinter, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, receiver Roman Wilson and running back Blake Corum all live to be drafted. Zinter saw his stock drop after the season-ending leg injury, Jenkins remains an intriguing case, and Wilson had a strong Senior Bowl and combine.

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Corum’s large draft window (Rounds 3-5) is the product of his position, injury history and 5-foot-8, 205-pound frame. We expect him to hear his name called (perhaps by the Chargers?), but running backs remain an unfortunate afterthought in the draft process.

CAN ALL SIX O-LINEMEN GET DRAFTED?

In a rare feat, Michigan has six offensive linemen eligible for this year’s draft. Four every-down starters in guards Zak Zinter and Trevor Keegan, tackle Karsen Barnhart and center Drake Nugent, and two others who rotated in as starters — LaDarius Henderson and Trente Jones.

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to offensive line play in the NFL, and that should help boost the stock of Barnhart, Henderson and Jones. Four seem like a slam dunk. Five is a real possibility. Six seems like a stretch.

Michigan plays Washington in 2024 national championship

Michigan linebacker Michael Barrett (23) celebrates as he walks to the bus after debating Washington 34-13 in the national championship at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.Neil Blake | MLive.com

FINALLY, A PREDICTION …

Will Michigan break Georgia’s draft record?

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Yes, but barely. I project many of the top names — J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum, Roman Wilson, Junior Colson, Mike Sainrisitl, Kris Jenkins — and five offensive linemen, tight end AJ Barner, receiver Cornelius Johnson, edge rushers Jaylen Harrell and Braiden McGregor, and linebacker Michael Barrett. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say Barrett — the program recordholder in games played (64) and wins (52) — is the final Michigan player taken in the seventh round, breaking the Georgia record.

Look for several others to sign undrafted free-agent deals as soon as the draft concludes Saturday evening, putting a bow on what should be an historic weekend for the city of Detroit and Michigan football program.



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Can Michigan break record for most players drafted? Debating the Wolverines' draft class

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Can Michigan break record for most players drafted? Debating the Wolverines' draft class


The NFL Draft kicks off Thursday in Detroit, and Michigan will be right in the middle of everything.

The Wolverines have one of the deepest draft classes in history, headlined by quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back Blake Corum, wide receiver Roman Wilson and many other stars from the national championship team. Two big storylines: Will McCarthy be a top-five pick, and will Michigan break Georgia’s record of 15 players selected in a single draft? The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner and Austin Meek are here to discuss.

Meek: Nick, the last time we did one of these, Jim Harbaugh was climbing mountains and saying he was going to beat Ohio State or die trying. Now he’s living in an RV park by the ocean and Michigan has a national championship banner hanging in Glick Field House. What a world!

Anyway, the draft is almost here and we’re about to find out if Harbaugh was right about the number of draft picks on his roster. You’ve been deep in the weeds of this draft class for months now, so let me start you off with this: Of Michigan’s draft prospects, who’s your favorite in terms of the value he’ll bring to a team relative to where he’s being projected?

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Baumgardner: I actually saw Harbaugh walking around in Indianapolis at the combine (literally 20 minutes after I got there, not lying) with a brand new, powder blue Chargers jacket on and one of those really bright-colored Charger hats. Jack was there, too, of course, Charger’d out. The whole vibe reminded me of when he came back to Michigan and spent the first six months globetrotting and loving life. The more things change, the more they don’t.

As far as this Michigan class goes, it’s not only the best and deepest the program’s had in decades — it’s one of the toughest, from top to bottom, in the history of the program. Some of those classes in the 1990s produced elite pro players, so we’ll see how this stacks up. But there are so many top-end guys in this group from a football character standpoint. And for me, the two at the top of the list (I’ll cheat) are Roman Wilson and Mike Sainristil.


Roman Wilson has all of the skills necessary to excel in the NFL. (Dylan Widger / USA Today)

Both players were probably outside the average NFL scout’s top 100 when last season started. But after about a month, you started to hear a lot of buzz about the uptick in speed and intensity we saw from Wilson in literally everything he was doing. Be it blocking, finishing in the air, adjusting to off-target throws. He turned himself into one of the most dependable, QB-friendly receivers in the country last year and is, to me, the model of what a college wide receiver should be. Your route is on time, every time. You block. You don’t drop the ball. You make younger guys around you better. He did all that, plus he’s a great athlete.

Sainristil is all of that on the other side of the ball. I’ve had former Michigan captains tell me they think Sainristil’s the best one the program’s ever had. Or at least on a short list of four or five. His influence on the people around him cannot be overstated and, frankly, it’s the perfect time for a guy like him to take advantage of that. The NFL is much more aware of emotional intelligence and how important it is now than probably ever before. Sainristil is an incredibly savvy and impactful player at just 5-foot-9. But the reason why he’s going to go Day 2 and not at the end of the sixth round is the intangible value-add he brings. Both guys are good enough to play right away in the league and, more importantly, have the mental makeup to survive and thrive.

Meek: I was adamant after last year that Sainristil was going to get drafted and play in the NFL. I’m not sure how much of a hot take that was, but he wasn’t on many NFL radars in early 2022 as a 5-9 senior who was playing DB for the first time in college. His whole career is a testament to patience and what’s possible when a guy brings it every day.

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We’ve gotten this far without discussing Jonathan James McCarthy, but let’s talk quarterbacks. A few months ago, the question was, “Will he be a first-round pick?” Now the question is, “Will he be a top-five pick?” Dane Brugler’s latest mock draft has the Vikings moving up to get McCarthy at No. 4, and the Chargers could deal the fifth pick to a team that wants to draft Harbaugh’s favorite QB. You’ve seen all the good and bad (mostly good) of McCarthy’s time at Michigan. So, two-part question: Will a team move into the top five to draft him, and should a team move into the top five to draft him?

Baumgardner: The QB situation in the NFL drives the bus with regard to the draft market. So many teams need guys right now and this is a good QB class in terms of prospects who have what it takes to start (for a long time) in the NFL. That includes McCarthy. I’d be surprised if he makes it out of the top five. That doesn’t mean I believe McCarthy’s a top-five player in this draft, or even a top-15 player.

Physically, his tools have always been first-round stuff. Anyone who saw that Daylen Baldwin throw (or the one to Roman Wilson in the Rose Bowl) knows what I mean. His body is explosive, he’s twitchy and can generate velocity from any arm angle — stationary or on the move.

NFL quarterbacks who can’t throw on the move, even if it’s a short distance due to pressure, do not survive. The guys we think of as “slow” are actually pretty quick in relation to what we usually see from a college passer. They’re also making three reads in the time it takes you and me to tie one shoe. McCarthy’s combination of athleticism and arm talent is top-tier stuff. If he’d played at Washington and gotten 500 attempts per year, this wouldn’t be polarizing. If he had a higher volume, he’d be easier to evaluate, and, in my opinion, his talent would overtake the discussion.

But he didn’t. Not because of anything he does or doesn’t have, but because of how Harbaugh and Michigan ran offense. If you cut up 25 throws from Caleb Williams’ or Jayden Daniels’ tape, you’re going to find at least half of those attempts look like something you’d see from an NFL offense — be it degree of difficulty, depth of concept, whatever. If you cut up 25 from McCarthy, you’ll find maybe three to five. And it’s possibly going to take you two games to get all the data.

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The lack of volume is problematic as it’s difficult to project what, exactly, McCarthy is right now. Michigan’s offense did an elite job of masking his struggle areas. The run game helped. But you’ll note that most of McCarthy’s big throws on the move went to his right. Frankly, most of his big stationary throws went to his right. He’s right-handed, and he’s downright lethal on the move rolling to his right. If you ask him to throw a 15-yard corner route to the right, it’s borderline surgical. If you ask him to do it to his left, it might hit the Gatorade cooler. If he rolls out to his left, the play becomes a choose-your-own-adventure book. He needs to get stronger. He can’t miss so many layups and, just like his old coach, he’s going to have to recalibrate his aggression calculus at the next level. You and I used to talk a lot about how Cade McNamara and Jim Harbaugh were, mentally, like the same person. Well, J.J. McCarthy and Jim Harbaugh are mentally and physically, more or less, the same person.

The positives far outweigh the negatives, though, which is why he’s a top-25 talent and, since he’s a QB in a year where everyone needs one, a likely top-five pick.

Meek: McCarthy won’t have to wait long to hear his name called, but the strength of this class is really going to shine on Day 2 and Day 3. Georgia had five first-round picks in 2022; Michigan might have one or two. If Michigan ends up breaking Georgia’s record, it will because the Wolverines had a bunch of players drafted in the middle and late rounds.

Is there a guy projected in the fifth round or later who you think has a shot to be an NFL starter or a contributor who has a long career? And, the big question: Do you think Michigan will break the record?

Baumgardner: One guy I loved all last season was tight end AJ Barner. There are other tight ends in this class with better athletic traits and there are certainly better receivers. In terms of the tight end stack, he’s probably a fifth-roundish guy. I’m not sure there’s a better run blocker, pound for pound, than Barner, though.

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Not just from an attitude/mindset standpoint, but also as a technician. He was, for my money, about the most fundamentally consistent run blocker there was at tight end in the Power 5 last year. I thought Barner was a hidden MVP for Michigan’s offense last season as he played a ton opposite Colston Loveland (who is going to be a first-round pick) and was essentially a legit sixth offensive lineman for U-M in both flex and heavy situations. Running the ball is back in the NFL. Not just with the Chargers. If you can run block, you’re on the radar of all 32 teams.

Barner can play inside or outside. He’s a really good space blocker. And he’s capable enough as a receiver to hold down the fort. If he can add like 10 solid pounds to his 6-6 frame, he’ll have a chance to be a Y or U tight end for a long time.

Another might be Cornelius Johnson. He tested much better than some thought he would and had a really good showing at the Shrine Bowl. Battle-tested player.

In terms of the record? I think it’ll be pretty close. I don’t think they’re getting 18, or however many Harbaugh predicted. But 15 is certainly possible. There are 13 guys I’d think are likely draft picks: J.J. McCarthy, Roman Wilson, Mike Sainristil, Junior Colson, Kris Jenkins, Blake Corum, Zak Zinter, AJ Barner, Jaylen Harrell, Cornelius Johnson, Trevor Keegan, Ladarius Henderson and Braiden McGregor. I’d be pretty surprised if any of those guys don’t hear their names. The toss-ups for me are Drake Nugent and Mike Barrett. I’d lean toward PFA grades for Karsen Barnhart, Trente Jones and Josh Wallace.

The thing to remember is the Harbaugh factor. Throughout Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan, his word was enough to get a handful of guys (Camaron Cheeseman, Jordan Glasgow, Brad Robbins, Chris Evans, Ben Mason) drafted on Day 3. There’s also the fact that you now have two Harbaugh brothers actively drafting (three if you count Mike Macdonald) and one of them really wants to be able to say (or have others say for him) he recruited the deepest NFL Draft class in the history of football. So, based on that, I’d say yeah: Michigan is going to set the record this spring. Even if it’s by just one.

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(Top photos of J.J. McCarthy, AJ Barner, Mike Sainristil: Kirby Lee, Junfu Han, Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)





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Billboard company dumps racist, antisemitic images displayed in Michigan, apologizes

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Billboard company dumps racist, antisemitic images displayed in Michigan, apologizes


A billboard company has removed three billboards in Michigan and is apologizing after being accused of displaying images of Hitler and a racist message on roadside displays.

The move came after an unidentified user posted images of the billboards to an X account titled “White Lives Matter Michigan” at about 3 p.m. Saturday.

Two of the billboards are alleged to have included neo-Nazi messaging celebrating Adolf Hitler’s April 20 birthday. Another said “Go Back To Africa!”

“White Lives Matter Michigan permeated censorship to obtain three roadside billboards throughout Southeastern Michigan to dog-whistle morale boosting messages to pro-Whites for this 4/20 Day of Action!” the X post read.

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Billboard4Me.com, a custom billboard website whose brand was pictured prominently in one of the images in the X thread, said the group used “silhouetted images, acronyms, and other deceptive tactics to get past our initial screening process.”

It said became aware of the images on X and “immediately” removed the boards.

“On Apr 20, 2024 3 billboard ads were posted in Michigan that our organization does not support or agree with in any manner whatsoever,” Billboard4Me officials said in a statement Tuesday. “The billboards were ordered by an organization that disguised itself and its purpose with deceptive imagery and wording. Upon doing so they violated our terms of use.”

Billboard4Me officials said the company has since implemented “better safety protocols to screen all billboard ads that come through our system” to ensure “no hidden agendas are being promoted in the ads.”

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“We recognize that we made a huge mistake by not catching these hidden messages before they were posted and sincerely apologize to the communities in Michigan and everyone who had to see them,” website officials said. “We pledge to do everything we can so that something like this never happens again.”

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid called for a rejection of messaging on the billboards.

“We condemn this deceptive campaign to honor one of history’s worst mass murderers and to promote racism and white supremacy,” Walid said in a statement Tuesday. “All Americans must reject the hatred and bigotry these billboards represent.”



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