Tourney Preview: A Closer look at Michigan
Let’s roll up our sleeves and look at Michigan, the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Regional. The Wolverines play No. 13 seed Ohio on Friday. What do we know about Ohio? Brent Yarina told us earlier. Now I’m here to tell you about Michigan in this post. Use the NCAA.com bracket and the BTN scoreboard to track all of the action this tournament.
No. 4 MICHIGAN’S RECORD VS. NCAA FIELD: 7-7
John Beilein’s NCAA record: 2-2 at Michigan; 8-5 overall at Michigan, West Virginia, Richmond.
Michigan’s NCAA tourney appearances: 23
How far can it go? The Wolverines should make it to the Sweet 16 in the Midwest region. The first game features MAC champ Ohio. Be careful, Michigan. The up-tempo Bobcats have a playmaker in guard D.J. Cooper. I was in Providence, R.I., two years ago to watch him torch Georgetown for 23 points in a first-round upset. It was a beautiful thing. The ultra-quick Cooper excels at driving into the lane and also can be a lock-down defender for a team that excels at generating turnovers.
Did you hear that, Trey Burke? Ohio also has Walter Offutt, an Ohio State transfer who you know would relish dumping the Wolverines. If Michigan makes it to the Sweet 16, it figures to face No. 1 North Carolina.
Best second-round matchup: Many pundits would like to see Michigan play No. 5 Temple—which will play the winner of the Cal-South Florida play-in game in the Owls’ first game–in the second round. Watching John Beilein match wits with Temple boss Fran Dunphy would be fun. These are smart teams. And both teams can shoot, but the Owls get an edge when it comes to defense and grittiness.
Chance to advance to Sweet 16: Excellent. And that would be a nice feat for a program that hasn’t won more than one game in the Big Dance since reaching the Elite Eight in 1994. Heck, this is just Michigan’s third NCAA trip since 1998.
Who needs to shine: Trey Burke. The last time we saw the freshman sensation point man, he was getting locked up by Ohio State’s Aaron Craft in a 77-55 loss in the Big Ten tourney semifinals. Burke hit just one-11 shots (0-for-seven from three-point range) en route to tallying just five points. Burke also had eight turnovers. But that was an aberration for the very talented Burke, who can score in a variety of ways and makes those around him better. In fact, the game before his clunker vs. Ohio State, Burke tallied 30 point in an overtime victory over Minnesota. He’s special.
X-factor: Tim Hardaway, Jr. Is he shooting well? Or not? Hardaway has struggled from three-point range this season, hitting only 28.2 percent. And he shoots just 42.0 percent from the field. Hardaway is just as apt to score eight points as he is 20. Michigan needs him to be consistent if it wants an extended run in March. Hardaway can’t force his shot and must get his attempts within the framework of the offense.
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find Dienhart’s work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow him on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his overall RSS feed.