Michigan Basketball (26-7, 12-6) earned a 4 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament and will play South Dakota State (25-9, 13-3) on Thursday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Jackrabbits are from the Summit League and are led by senior point guard Nate Wolters, who is the NCAA’s 4th leading scorer at 22.7 points per game.
It will be interesting to see how much of a home court advantage the Wolverines will have by playing in Auburn Hills.
South Dakota State likes to play a fast paced style which is good for Michigan. The Jackrabbits rank 36th nationally in points per game (73.9) and 25th in field goal percentage (47.0). Just how good is Nate Wolters? Consider his performance in the Summit League Championship game when he posted this stat line, 27 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals – a line that’s only been accomplished three times previously in a conference tournament game since the turn of the century. He’s the real deal and the Wolverines will have their hands full defending him.
Looking ahead to the next round, if Michigan should prevail on Thursday they would face the winner of VCU and Akron, which means they’d most likely be playing against the Rams of VCU and their HAVOC style of play.
If Michigan can survive the first weekend and advance to the Sweet 16 they would play one of four teams; #1 seed Kansas, Western Kentucky, North Carolina or Villanova. A potential Great Eight opponent would be Georgetown or Florida.
Back to the South Dakota State match up, we will be hearing a lot about Trey Burke and Nate Wolters between now and Thursday and rightfully so. They are two tremendous players. Burke will go down as one of Michigan’s best players of all-time and Wolters is certainly the best player in Jackrabbits history.
For Burke, now is the time to establish his legacy and he can do that by guiding Michigan to a deep tournament run. The Wolverines have the guard play to match up and give any opposing team headaches. However, they must ratchet up the defensive intensity if they want it be a truly special tournament.
It will certainly be a breath of fresh air for the Wolverines to break free from the Big Ten schedule and spread their wings. Remember this is the same team that rolled through the non-conference portion of their schedule and beat NCAA Tournament teams; Kansas State, NC State, and Pittsburgh.
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