The NCAA Tournament first round game between the Michigan Wolverines and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits was the story of two players: one player that did a lot to help his teammates, and another player that didn’t get enough help from the rest of his teammates.
Michigan point guard Trey Burke took control of the game and paced the Wolverines to a comfortable first round victory. Burke struggled shooting the ball, making just two of his 12 field goal attempts and missing all five of his three-point tries and totaling just six total points. However, he did well to get the rest of his teammates involved, dishing out seven assists. Against the Jackrabbits, Burke dribbled into the lane time and time again, almost effortlessly, and when he did he opened up opportunities for his teammates to make shots and get to the basket for easy buckets. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Robinson III each scored 21 points and were a combined 8-12 from the perimeter, in large part due to Burke’s ability to penetrate the South Dakota State defense.
For South Dakota State, junior Brayden Carlson had one of his best games of the season, but didn’t get enough support from his teammates. Carlson, who averages eight points per game, scored 20 against the Wolverines on 8-12 shooting, while also coming away with an impressive eight rebounds and four assists. Unfortunately for the Jackrabbits, the player that would have been a great compliment to Carlson did not bring his best game. Senior Nate Wolters, who averages 22 points per game, finished with just 10 points on 3-14 shooting against Michigan, missing all five of his three-point attempts. Without Wolters playing at the level he’s accustomed to playing at, Carlson’s strong performance was in vain, as his efforts could not enough to keep the Jackrabbits within striking distance down the stretch, despite plenty of hustle and grit.
With Burke playing well despite a lack of scoring, he was able to help his teammates do the damage that led the Wolverines to victory in their first round game and get them back on track following an uneasy end to the regular season. Meanwhile, the Jackrabbits simply did not have the horses to keep up with Michigan, eliminating them from the NCAA Tournament in the first round for the second consecutive year.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.