This is a matchup that most people expected. Kansas is the top seed in the region while Michigan is the 4th. Many people felt Michigan was deserving of a 3 seed at minimum. This game should be an interesting game filled with runs for both teams and exciting basketball overall. Kansas struggled in their 2nd round matchup with Western Kentucky; they trailed at halftime and really had to fight their way to a 7 point victory. In the 3rd round they faced North Carolina in a game that many thought could go either way. Kansas proceeded to dominate the second half; apparently their close call in the 2nd round woke them up a little bit. Surprisingly, Michigan has yet to be tested thus far. Their 3rd round matchup was considered a toss-up as VCU has the ability to play up tempo and was considered fully capable of beating anyone. However Michigan had little difficulty with the pressure and cruised from the beginning to a 78-53 victory.
Mitch McGary led the Wolverines with 21 points and 14 rebounds as Michigan dissected VCU and pushed the tempo in their favor. Trey Burke had 18 points and 7 assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Robinson scored 14 points each. Burke showed that he was fully capable of handling the VCU pressure and led his team to several fast break points including an incredible alley-oop pass to Robinson. The game was never close and Michigan showed that they are a dangerous team who will be a tough out going forward.
After their surprisingly difficult matchup in the 2nd round Kansas knew they would have a fight on their hands vs. Coach Roy Williams and the UNC Tar Heels. UNC proceeded to take it right at Kansas in the first half and they held a 9 point advantage at halftime. Luckily for Kansas college basketball is a game of 2 halves and they played with a tremendous amount of pride and passion in the second half outscoring the Tar Heels 49-28. Travis Releford played like the veteran that he is scoring 22 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Fellow senior Jeff Withey showed that he had no desire for his college career to end with 16 points and 16 rebounds, he played like a man possessed in the 2nd half. He exposed the smaller Carolina front line and got virtually every board. Kansas didn’t make any major changes in the second half; they simply made shots and played much better.
This matchup is as close as the 2 point spread indicates. Michigan has looked dominant throughout while Kansas has really only played well for 1 half in 2 games combined. Guard play gets even more important in the round of 16 and that edge would have to go to Michigan. Burke, Robinson, and Nik Stauskas keep defenses honest with their passing and ability to shoot the 3. Kansas has not gotten good play from Ben McLemore thus far and will not survive another poor game without good play from him. The interior edge is certainly with Kansas as Withey has shown that he can dominate inside.
Tough game to call but in the end you have to go with the team that has been playing better. Michigan has dominated thus far and has better guard play while Kansas has shown that they can be had.
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