For the Michigan Wolverines, last night’s game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits was more about redemption than anything. In last year’s NCAA Tournament, the then 4-seeded Wolverines lost in their first game to the 13-seeded Ohio Bearcats. And because of how poorly Michigan played in the tournament last year, this year’s matchup was one the experts were talking about. Which Michigan team would show up- the team that started the season 16 – 0 or the team that limped into the tournament by going 6 – 6 down the stretch?
Michigan didn’t necessarily put those questions to rest as they started the game. Play of the Year candidate Trey Burke struggled to find any rhythm and at times seemed more concerned with getting his own game kick started. Luckily for Michigan, Tim Hardaway Jr. put the team on his back in the 1st half scoring 12 points (all 3-point shots). As Michigan went to halftime however, they still only had a slim 30 – 26 lead. In the 2nd half, a couple freshmen for Michigan took over the game. Glenn Robinson III scored the first 11 points of the half for Michigan as he went on to lead all scores with 21 (8 of 9 from the field). Mitch McGary gave Michigan the added height, muscle, and energy they needed as he added 13 points. McGary also probably sealed the victory when he stole a Nate Wolters pass late in the game and took it the length of the court for a dunk. As for Burke, the night probably didn’t go quite as planned. He finished with only 6 points and had to leave the game for a little while after coming down hard on his tailbone and elbow. His team lived to fight another day however, and they will face the 5-seeded Virginia Commonwealth Rams at 12:15pm on Saturday. The Rams will be a much tougher opponent, and Michigan will need Burke and his teammates to be on top of their game to move on to the Sweet Sixteen. When Michigan shows up and plays like they can and should, I don’t think there is another team in college basketball that can beat them. I expect Michigan to come out firing this time and while the game will be fairly close throughout, Michigan should advance to the next round. (Picture from Detroit Free Press)