How Will Burke Follow Up His Career Performance?
In the first half against Kansas, Burke didn’t score a single point, and the Wolverines went into the break down 6. But after halftime, Burke exploded for 23 points, including quite possibly the shot of the tournament so far. Down three points in the final second of regulation, Burke hoisted a three from well beyond pro-distance, and sent the game into overtime. Finishing the night with 23 points and 10 assists, Burke became only the 5th player in NCAA Tournament history to post 20+ points and 10+ assists in a sweet 16 matchup and the first since 1987 - Providence’s Billy Donovan.
And fittingly enough, it’s Donavan’s team that stands in Burke’s path next.
The last two matchups have been really intriguing for the Wolverines. VCU’s full-court press was a new defensive look, while Kansas’s athleticism and size was something that the Big Ten didn’t really have this season. But today’s elite eight meeting with the Florida Gators is quite possibly the most interesting matchup so far.
First off, the Gators feature one of the NCAA’s top halfcourt defenses. They allow opponents to score an average of 53.7 points per game, third in the nation, and first amongst the nation’s top conferences. They’re extremely quick to the ball, and close out on shooters extremely well.
But what may be most scary about Florida is their array of three-point shooting threats. The team has three players that average over 1 three per game, led by 6’10” Forward Erik Murphy, who hits 2.1 per game at 46%. Starting guards Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton average 1.7 and 1.9 respectively as well.
Michigan had trouble pressuring Kansas’s shooters on Friday, leading to 6 threes - 4 of which from Freshman Ben McLemore - and will really need to make sure that the Gators don’t get comfortable from beyond the arc.
What’s specifically troubling about the matchup for Michigan is that in a lot of ways the Gators are similar to Wisconsin, who really gave Michigan trouble this year, sweeping the season series 2-0. Wisconsin is right behind Florida in opponent scoring at 55.9 per game and they also have a team full of three point threats to keep you on your toes.
On the bright side for the Wolverines is that they’ve not only been battle tested with extremely worthy Big Ten opponents all year, but their tournament run so far has forced them to deal with one of the nation’s best pressure defenses and one of the top seeded teams in the NCAA, whereas Florida is yet to play a single-digit seed, winning each of their three tournament games by 12-or-more points so far.
The third final four bid will be up for grabs beginning at 2:20 PM EST., so make sure to tune in and see if Trey Burke can keep the Wolverines rolling or if the Florida Gators can knock out the final Big Ten team in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.