ARLINGTON, Texas – Trey Burke just wouldn’t let Michigan lose Friday night in Cowboys Stadium. After going scoreless in the first half, Burke buried by far the biggest shot of the Wolverines’ season, a deep triple with five seconds remaining. He then added five more points in overtime, leading No. 4 Michigan to an improbable 87-85 victory over No. 1 seed Kansas.
Here are my thoughts on Michigan advancing to the Elite 8 for the first time since 1994.
1.) How did that happen? Kansas fans were high-fiving and saying “It’s over” multiple times with about seven minutes left. Heck, I was writing about a Kansas victory a few minutes before that. How did the Wolverines calmly turn it around in the final minutes? Well, because they’re really good. Michigan was ranked No. 1 in the country in late January and Burke is far from a one-man show. Mitch McGary, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III will all be playing in the NBA. Those four combined for all but 16 of Michigan’s points. There’s no doubt, the Wolverines are good enough to win it all.
2.) Kansas’ Ben McLemore finally showed up, however, it wasn’t enough. The probable top-five pick in this summer’s draft was upstaged by another possible lottery pick. Burke scored 18 points in the second half, helping erase a deficit that climbed to 54-68 with just under seven minutes remaining. McLemore, who finished with a team-high 20, finally found his shot after poor showings in Kansas’ first two tourney games. But Burke displayed why he will be receiving all of the national player of the year awards. He’s the best player in college basketball and proved it when the game was on the line.
Just don’t mention NBA and Burke in the same sentence around Michigan coach John Beilein. His simple one-sentence response after the game: “I just think it’s the wrong time and the wrong place to ask that question.”
3.) Kansas coach Bill Self is far from a stranger to big games. He won a national title in 2008 and coached in the national title game last year. But even he seemed to be having a difficult time finding the words after Friday’s loss, admitting that this defeat will take a long time for his basketball program to get over. “Props to Michigan for making all the plays late,” Self said. “All we had to do was make one play, and we didn’t do it.”
4.) McGary’s recent play might have greatly improved his chances of entering the NBA Draft. NBA teams are always looking for a talented big man with a high motor. McGary had 25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and a block. Not a bad way to follow up a 21-point, 14-rebound effort against VCU the round before. The 6-10, 250-pounder went the prep school route and is currently 20, same age as Burke, who is almost certainly turning pro. Entering a weak NBA draft class is not out of the question for McGary.
5.) It was pretty obvious who held the edge in fan support at Cowboys Stadium. Every Kansas run was met with cheers that would make the Dallas Cowboys jealous. But that was before overtime. Amazing how a few buckets can make a group of supporters go silent. Michigan didn’t come close to matching the number of Jayhawk fans, but as you can see, that didn’t matter.