As of Monday, March 18, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: South Dakota State vs. Michigan
Michigan enjoyed tremendous success at home this season and begins its pursuit of a Final Four berth just miles from campus. The Wolverines will travel to nearby Auburn Hills to host Summit League champion South Dakota State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Coach John Beilein's team makes its fourth trip in six years to the Big Dance and matched its No. 4 seed from a season ago, when Michigan was upset by Ohio in the second round.
The Wolverines, who suffered their lone home loss in 18 games with a one-point setback to top-seeded Indiana, feature a prominent offensive attack. Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke leads the team in scoring (19.2) and assists (6.7). He will share top billing in the opening game with Jackrabbits senior star Nate Wolters, who won the honor in the Summit League after leading the conference in scoring and assists. Wolters had 19 points in South Dakota State's loss to Baylor in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in its first-ever entry. The winner of this one plays either Virginia Commonwealth or Akron in the third round Saturday.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (25-9): The Jackrabbits lost three out of five games during one stretch in February, but have won four in a row since. Wolters has been the catalyst, averaging 20.8 points and eight assists during the streak - which included a three-game run through the Summit League tournament. He played every minute of the tourney and will draw loads of attention from Burke and backcourt mate Tim Hardaway Jr. Between Wolters, Jordan Dykstra and Chad White, South Dakota State has a formidable perimeter game. It enters ranked 10th in the nation in 3-point shooting and can stick around if the shots are falling.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (26-7): The Wolverines were just 10-7 down the stretch and struggled to get their potent offense going. That was the case during portions of a 68-59 loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, but more notable was Michigan yielding 51 second-half points. Michigan's athleticism could prove fatal for South Dakota State. An excellent example was the Burke-to-Hardaway alley-oop in the first half of the loss to the Badgers that served as one of the highlights of Championship Week. Hardaway, who will be very difficult for South Dakota State to defend, overcame an ankle injury suffered in the first half against Wisconsin to finish with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Burke has been the model of consistency. The sophomore has scored in double figures in every game - and recorded at least 18 in each of his last 10.
Freshmen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III complement Burke and Hardaway well, averaging a combined 22.2 points. Stauskas is the Wolverines' top threat from the 3-point line.
Michigan has won the only two meetings between the schools. The last one was Dec. 3, 1988, early in the Wolverines' one and only national championship season.
PREDICTION: Michigan 82, South Dakota State 69