Trey Burke was named the national player of the year on Thursday by the Associated Press.
He also received the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award.
The recognition should surprise no one. Burke has been one of the top players in the country all year, and he has helped lead Michigan to the promised land of the Final Four.
The trick now is to live up to the added hype on the biggest stage when the Wolverines battle Syracuse in a national semifinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday night.
Burke needs to be on top of his game for the Wolverines to thrive and continue their quest for the program’s first national title since 1989. He is averaging 18.8 points per outing and shooting 46.4 percent from the field. He is also averaging nearly seven assists per game.
Burke becomes vital to the success of the Wolverines on Saturday because he has to be able to be effective against the zone defense of Syracuse in order to give Michigan a chance to be efficient on the offensive end of the floor.
If Burke thrives, the Wolverines are going to be fine. If he struggles, it could be a long night for Michigan.
Burke really has no choice but to be at his best. He is the nation’s top player and point guard. Everyone expects him to perform at a high level with a national title on the line.
Granted, he doesn’t have to do it all, but he has to be on for Michigan to succeed in the Final Four.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.