Apr 1, 2013, 12:38 PM EST
There was a point in time where many people, myself included, thought that Michigan might be the best team in the country.
Trey Burke was playing like, well, Trey Burke. Nik Stauskas was hitting seemingly every shot that he took. Tim Hardaway Jr. was playing like an all-american and Glenn Robinson III didn’t look like a freshman at all.
But that all changed late down the stretch of the regular season. Stauskas slumped, Robinson struggled against top-flight competition, Jordan Morgan got hurt and, after a flameout in the second round of the Big Ten tournament, the Wolverines ended up with a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance.
Things clicked once the tournament began, however, and John Beilein’s club once again looks like a title contender.
How they got here: The Wolverines torched both No. 13 seed South Dakota State and No. 5 seed VCU on the first weekend. In the Sweet 16, Michigan erased a 14 point deficit in the final seven minutes and an eight point deficit in the final 1:14 to beat No. 1 seed Kansas before blowing out No. 3 Florida for the right to go to the Final Four.
Odds to win the title: 3:1
Why they can win: Trey Burke is awesome, but the reason that Michigan can win a national title is because everyone else around him is playing well. Nik Stauskas went 6-6 from three and scored 22 points against Florida. Glenn Robinson III was arguably the team’s best player in their wins over SDSU and VCU. Most importantly, Mitch McGary is starting to look like the guy that was ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2012 at one point during his time in high school. He has averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 boards in the four games of the tournament.
When Burke is getting that kind of support, Michigan can survive some of his shooting struggles. Because, to be quite honest, outside of the three minute stretch where Burke took over against Kansas to force overtime and win that game, he has played pretty average basketball (by his standards) the last four games.
Why they won’t win: Their defense, specifically Trey Burke. Who is he going to guard on Syracuse? Michael Carter-Williams? He feasted on Indiana’s small guards, finishing with 24 points. Will Michigan put him on Brandon Triche? Maybe, but Triche not only has four inches on Burke, he has 40 pounds on him. What if they make it to the title game? Can Burke stay in front of Siva or Smith without getting into foul trouble? What about Malcolm Armstead?
And Burke isn’t the only player on the team that can struggle on the defensive end of the floor. McGary isn’t exactly known as a shot-blocking menace. Robinson can get overpowered by bigger four-men. There’s no question that Michigan is going to be able to score, but their work on the defensive end will end up being the difference.
Key stat: There are two you need to know: they are the best in the country when it comes to protecting the ball, and they are 11th in the country in effective field goal percentage. Why does that matter? Well, they should be able to pass through and shoot over the Syracuse zone, and should they play Louisville in the final, they may not have as much trouble with the Cardinal’s press as other teams have.
Game-changer: Mitch McGary. He’s not a shot-blocker, but his physical presence on the interior certainly makes a difference, especially when he’s getting to the offensive glass and setting screens for Burke.
Prediction?: I actually think that Michigan is going to lose to Syracuse in the Final Four, but if they manage to knock off the Orange, I think that the Wolverines would be a better matchup with Louisville that Syracuse would.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:37 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 19 Florida 67, No. 13 Kansas 61 Florida played the first month with many players sidelined for various reason. Chris Walker, the Gators hope, will be another piece they get back soon. On Tuesday night, Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill returned from injuries to team up in the back court. The…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:02 AM EST
Gonzaga had not led since 18:35 left in the first half, but with 4:10 remaining in the game, Kyle Dranginis found the trailing Kevin Pangos, who had struggled to this point, at the top of the key for a wide-open three on the secondary break. The sharpshooter drilled it, giving the Zags a 68-66 lead.…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:49 PM EST
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Dec 10, 2013, 9:53 PM EST
I wrote this on Saturday after No. 13 Kansas lost to Colorado at the buzzer. The gist of it? Kansas fans should not be too disappointed about the loss, that the more important news was that Andrew Wiggins finally started to play like the Andrew Wiggins we all told you about. I could pretty much…
Dec 10, 2013, 9:30 PM EST
Florida entered the season ranked No. 10 in the AP poll, however, it was with a depleted roster that included players ineligible, suspended or injured. The Gators lost a road game inside the Kohl Center to the currently unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers, which caused them to fall outside the top 10. Last Monday, Shabazz Napier drained…
NAIA allows Cameron Rodriguez to keep $20K after hitting half-court shot at Oklahoma City Thunder game
Dec 10, 2013, 8:55 PM EST
On November 18, Cameron Rodriguez hit a half-court shot during a break in the Denver Nuggets-Oklahoma City Thunder game, with the award being $20,000 dollars. However there was a question if Rodriguez, a student-athlete on the Southwestern College basketball team, could accept the payment. Southwestern College is an NAIA program in Winfield, Kans. The NAIA…
Dec 10, 2013, 7:40 PM EST
Oklahoma sophomore guard Je’lon Hornbeak will not miss up to a month and a half with after a breaking a bone in his foot , the school announced on Tuesday. The 6-foot-4 Hornbeak suffered the injury during practice on Tuesday morning, and although the recovery does not require surgery, it will take up four to six…
Dec 10, 2013, 6:25 PM EST
The honors are continuing to roll in for Jerry Tarkanian, the former national champion coach who amassed more than 700 victories (more if you include junior colleges) in his 30-year coaching career at Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State The latest recognition comes from the school he played his collegiate ball for (1954-1955) and…
Dec 10, 2013, 5:10 PM EST
Preseason prognostication is, more or less, a guessing game. The picks that the so-called experts — myself included — make are educated and generally well-researched, but they’re still guess. And oftentimes, those guesses end up wrong. Through a month of the season, who did we swing-and-miss on the most?: TEN MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYERS Luke Hancock,…
Dec 10, 2013, 5:08 PM EST
Willie Cauley-Stein has a strong case to be considered the most interesting player in college basketball this season. From his size and ability on the floor to his fashion sense off the court all the way to his fascination (and preparation) for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. During Friday night’s 67-62 loss to Baylor, the Kentucky…
Dec 10, 2013, 2:53 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 13 Kansas at No. 19 Florida, 7:00 p.m. ET I wonder how long it’s going to be before Bill Self regrets the schedule that he put together for this Kansas team? Three days ago, the Jayhawks were in Colorado, where they lost to the Buffaloes on a buzzer-beater by Askia…
Dec 10, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
The inclement weather that made Sunday’s east coast NFL games so entertaining has been wreaking havoc with the travel schedules of a number of college hoops teams. Over the weekend, a handful of games were cancelled or postponed. Today, word came down that Fairfield would be postponing their trip to Belmont because the Stags are…
Dec 10, 2013, 12:25 PM EST
The 2013-2014 season is sure to be a thrilling Player of the Year race, so to keep track of it, we will be posting weekly Player of the Year Power Rankings for your reading goodness. Who’d we miss? Who’s ranked too high? We love to overlook your team’s best player and overrate your rival’s superstar.…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:50 AM EST
Since 2006 the phrase “one-and-done” has been a vital phrase off the tongues of college basketball fans as the NBA’s rule change forced players out of high school to wait at least one season — and likely play in college — before entering the NBA. Since then college basketball has seen numerous one-and-done players and…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:23 AM EST
UCLA picked up another commitment in the Class of 2014 as Jonah Bolden announced his intentions to be a Bruin in college. The news was first reported by Evan Daniels. Bolden is a 6-foot-8 small forward from Australia that is playing at Findlay Prep this season. He’s ranked No. 62 by Rivals. Here is how…
Dec 10, 2013, 10:35 AM EST
My favorite is Dan Shulman. “Dick, there’s an ‘L’ in my last name.” But the sleeper is Bruce Pearl. He may be the one guy that’s got as much energy as Vitale.
Dec 9, 2013, 9:45 PM EST
Bryant played in its first nationally televised game on the road Monday at Notre Dame on ESPNU, and they put up a fight against the Irish in a 70-59 loss. Although Notre Dame was 6-2 entering the game, Bryant showed confidence throughout the game as Notre Dame never seemed to do what they…
Dec 9, 2013, 8:00 PM EST
Boston College’s struggles this season have been well chronicled. The Golden Eagles got thumped last week on the road at Purdue and took another loss at the Galen Center to USC this weekend. Steve Donahue’s ballclub is 3-6 now and their defense in particular has struggled this season as they’ve played a pretty difficult nonconference…
Dec 9, 2013, 4:23 PM EST
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