For the second consecutive season, Michigan will be a no. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, this year in the South Region. After a 16-0 start and aspirations of being a no. 1 seed, to be at the same seeding as last season is a bit disappointing for the Wolverines.
However, it doesn’t really matter at this point, as Michigan will be taking on no. 13 seeded South Dakota State in Auburn Hills on Thursday.
This game has a few interesting aspects to it.
First, Michigan will have a huge home-court advantage playing just fifty miles away from Ann Arbor. That is one of the advantages of being a high seed, as it will practically be a home game for Michigan.
In terms of the actual basketball, this game should be interesting. Michigan has the likely Wooden Award winner in Trey Burke. Burke is the best point guard in the country, scoring at least 15 points in every conference game for Michigan and having the best assist to turnover ratio in the Big Ten and fourth best in the country.
South Dakota State’s point guard is no slouch either though, as Nate Wolters is also one of the best point guards in the country. Wolters has an astounding stat line: 23 PPG, on 49 FG% and 39 3p%, while also dishing out six assists and grabbing six rebounds per game. He is a stud and can single-handedly win games for the Summit League Champion Jackrabbits.
Wolters is not the lone sharpshooter for South Dakota State, as they make over 39% of their threes as a team, tenth best in the country. Michigan’s defense is definitely their biggest weakness (followed by rebounding) and South Dakota State will challenge that, especially with Wolters.
Although I am not going to put Michigan on upset alert, they do have to be wary of Wolters and the Jackrabbits’ shooting ability. Michigan shouldn’t be looking ahead to their likely second round date with VCU, but they should be able to beat South Dakota State. Michigan is more talented than the Jackrabbits and doesn’t turn the ball over as much. The heavily leaning maize and blue crowd won’t hurt Michigan, as they open their NCAA Tournament in Auburn Hills. If Michigan shows up with the focus they have been lacking over the past month and a half, they should win this game comfortably.
Burke spoke of his primary goal being a national championship when he decided to return for this season. Well, it all starts here, with a match-up with Nate Wolters and the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.