Burke, Michigan highlight NCAA second weekend
A weekend that began with promise for the Big Ten ended amid more disappointment than joy.
Many felt the nation’s best league had a chance for multiple teams in the Final Four—maybe even four. But in the end, Michigan was the lone survivor. In fact, the Wolverines and Ohio State were the only Big Ten team to make it to the Elite Eight.
No. 1 Indiana and No. 3 Michigan State fell in the Sweet 16 to Syracuse and Duke, respectively. The Orange, for what it’s worth, advanced to the Final Four.
Michigan is in the Final Four for the first time since 1993 and seventh time overall. The Wolverines will play No. 4 Syracuse in the national semis in Atlanta on Saturday, aiming for their first national championship since 1989.
Here is a look back at the weekend.
ALL-SECOND WEEKEND TEAM
G Trey Burke, Michigan: The nifty sophomore guard has been the most impressive player thus far in the tourney. In wins over Kansas and Florida, Burke scored an aggregate 38 points with 17 assists. Time and again, he made big shots and big plays, including this ridiculously deep trey to force overtime vs. Kansas.
G Nik Stauskas, Michigan: The sharpshooting Canadian freshman was deadly vs. Florida, hitting all six of his 3-point attempts en route to scoring a game-high 22 points, on 7-of-8 from the field. Against, Kansas, Stauskas hit 1-of-4 3-pointers and had 11 points.
G Victor Oladipo, Indiana: Oladipo did his part vs. No. 4 Syracuse, but it wasn’t enough. The junior hit five-of-six shots and had 16 points with three rebounds and three steals. But the Hoosiers lost to the Orange in the Sweet 16, 61-50.
F Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: The junior had an off night, hitting only 8-of-20 shots (0-for-6 from 3-point range) in the 70-66 loss to No. 9 Wichita State. But he had 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
C Mitch McGary, Michigan: The burly freshman continues his coming out party, tallying 25 points, 14 rebounds and three steals vs. Kansas and 11 points, nine rebounds and five steals vs. Florida. McGary’s effort vs. the Jayhawks was especially impressive when you consider he was battling a fifth-year senior in 7-foot Jeff Withey. Not bad for a guy who has made just six career starts.
Best game: Michigan’s 87-85 overtime win over No. 1 Kansas on Friday night in the South Region was arguably the best game of the tourney. The contest was filled with high drama, as the Wolverines trailed by 14 points with less than seven minutes left and by five points with 21 seconds left. Time and again, big, bad senior-dominated Kansas got the ball inside for easy hoops. In fact, 60 of KU’s 85 points came in the paint. But Michigan rallied to win in overtime after a furious rally in the last five minutes.
Best effort: It can’t be anyone but Trey Burke’s effort vs. Kansas. The sophomore went 0-for-4 with no points in the first half, as the Jayhawks built a 40-34 lead. But Burke came alive in the second half and in overtime, erupting for 23 points. He hit 9-of-23 shots. And none was bigger than a 3-point bomb in the waning seconds that tied the game and forced overtime. That capped a furious Michigan rally from 10 points down with 2:22 left. The Wolverines took control in overtime, when Burke added five points to clinch the 87-85 win over No. 1 Kansas and push Michigan to its first Eight since 1994.
Best shot: Trey Burke’s 3-pointer with just a few seconds hanging on the clock takes the cake. The miraculous heave tied the game at 85 and forced overtime. Michigan trailed, 70-59, with 3:57 to play. Burke’s dagger brought the Wolverines all the way back.
Most impressive win: Michigan cruised past No. 3 Florida with relative ease on Sunday in an Elite Eight win, taking a 79-59 triumph in which they never were really in peril. The Wolverines raced to a 13-0 lead and led 41-17 at one point in the first half. Michigan laughed its way to victory from there.
Best player: Trey Burke. He tallied 23 points vs. Kansas and 15 vs. Florida. That’s 38 points. In four NCAA tourney games, the sophomore has scored 62 points and been a dominant force. Is there a better player in the nation? His effort vs. No. 1 Kansas in an 87-85 Sweet 16 overtime victory was one for the ages. He was 0-for-4 with no points but five assists in the first half.
“I stayed confident,” Burke said. “I tried to get everybody involved.”
He kept the faith and came out flying in the second half and overtime, scoring 23 points with 10 assists to keep the No. 4 Wolverines alive.
“This team is at its best when everyone is not sitting around looking at me,” Burke said. “We’ve been playing our best basketball the last two or three weeks because everybody is involved.”
True. But unless Burke is involved—heavily—Michigan isn’t at its best.
Burke’s effort in a 79-59 victory vs. Florida wasn’t as dramatic, but it was every bit as impressive when you consider he fought through a stomach issue and bad back to hit 5-of-16 shots for 15 points with seven assists.
Most disappointing team: Ohio State. The No. 2 seeded Buckeyes flopped vs. No. 9 Wichita State in a West Region bracket that had been decimated with the No. 1 (Gonzaga); No. 3 (New Mexico); No. 4 (Kansas State); No. 5 (Wisconsin) seeds all eliminated. But Ohio State didn’t get it done, shooting 31 percent vs. the Shockers to lose 70-66 for the Big Ten tourney champs.
Disappointing team, No. 2: Indiana. The No. 1 Hoosiers got handcuffed by No. 4 Syracuse and its vaunted 2-3 zone defense, falling 61-50 in the Sweet 16. Season over. Indiana could never get on track, shooting just 33 percent overall and 20 percent from 3-point range. The small Hoosiers backcourt of Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls was no match for the long, athletic Syracuse guards. Neither Ferrell nor Hulls scored a point, going a combined 0-for-8 with four assists and six turnovers. Indiana still enjoyed a great season, winning the school’s first outright Big Ten title since 1992-93. But to have it end this soon was a disappointment.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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