Wolverines at the “Big Dance”

The Wolverines had a disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament after heftily beating Penn State in their first game. While they had a disheartening final 12 games (6-6) that doesn’t put a damper on Michigan’s outstanding season as a whole (26-7). With three freshmen playing an integral role in Michigan’s success, the future, in terms of the next few weeks as well as years, looks bright, despite the possible loss of Trey Burke to the NBA next year.

Michigan received a four seed in the south region and are set to play their first game of the NCAA tournament against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The Jacks are led by Senior, Nate Wolters. Wolters received Summit League Player of the Year and scores an average of 22.7 points per game. Coming off of a big win against North Dakota State for the Summit League Championship, Wolters had over one third of the teams points with 27. The Jacks are returning to the tournament for the second consecutive season and are on a hot streak, going 9-3 their last 12 games.

There are quite a few similarities between Michigan and SDSU, the most prevalent being both teams’ accuracy. In terms of field goal percentage, Michigan is ranked 9 in the country with .484  and the Jacks, while unranked in any national polls, are 25 in the country with .470. Another similarity is both teams’ star point guard. The game will no doubt become a battle between senior Nate Wolters and sophomore Trey Burke. Both players lead their respective teams in points and assists per game, and will duke it out in the second round-game.

Both teams were knocked out in the first round of the tournament last year, but both teams are coming back with a vengeance and know-how for tournament play. While both teams will battle hard for survival at the big dance, it would be a cinderella story for SDSU to win their first game. With both teams possessing stellar point guards that they rely on heavily,  the difference maker will be Michigan’s freshmen standing behind Burke. The Jacks’ lack of depth will likely be their downfall, and maybe their only one with so many similarities between the two teams. 

The clear favorite is the Wolverines, and they will presumably advance to play the winner of the VCU vs. Akron game. While nothing is certain, Michigan is the younger, more capable team with everything to prove. Much is expected of the Wolverines as they were ranked number 1 in the country earlier this season. They will come to the Palace of Auburn Hills March 21, 7:15 ready to show what they’ve got in the postseason. My prediction is 70-63, Michigan on top.