Friday, March 29, 2013
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Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: Michigan vs. Kansas
Michigan makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 since 1994, taking on top-seeded Kansas on Friday in Arlington, Tex. The Jayhawks are no stranger to the second week, reaching the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in 10 seasons under coach Bill Self. The fourth-seeded Wolverines beat No. 13-seed South Dakota State (71-56) in the second round and fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth (78-53) in the third. The Jayhawks have had a more difficult time advancing. They beat 16th-seeded Western Kentucky in their opener (64-57) followed by a win against eighth-seeded North Carolina (70-58).
Kansas features four seniors in its starting lineup: center Jeff Withey, forward Kevin Young and guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford. By contrast, none of Michigan's top nine scorers is a senior. The Wolverines don't have a true center on their roster, so look for them to employ a combination of players against Withey, a skilled 7-footer. Mitch McGary, a 6-10 freshman who averages 18.4 minutes, will likely get the first shot.
TV: 7:47 p.m. ET, TBS.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (28-7): Trey Burke has done some things in this tournament that he hasn't done all season. In the opener against South Dakota State, the sophomore point guard and Big Ten Player of the Year scored in single digits for the first time this season, shooting a season-worst 2-for-12 and scoring six points in Auburn Hills, Mich. He came back with 18 points against VCU but committed a season-high seven turnovers. That number stood out even more because Burke is fourth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.11).
ABOUT KANSAS (31-5): The Jayhawks have their own budding superstar in freshman guard Ben McLemore, but he's also struggling lately. He missed all nine field-goal attempts against North Carolina and scored a season-low two points. He nearly had as many turnovers (four) as field-goal attempts (five) against Western Kentucky and hasn't reached his 15.8 scoring average in the last four games dating to the Big 12 tournament semifinals. McLemore is capable of going on scoring sprees, having notched 30 or more points three times this season.
1. Kansas is 29-9 all-time as a No. 1 seed in the tournament, but 3-4 against the No. 4 seed.
2. Withey averages 16.5 points, 11 rebounds and 3.9 blocks, which ranks second in the nation.
3. The winner is guaranteed to play a Florida-based team for the first time this season, facing third-seeded Florida or 15-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the Elite Eight.
PREDICTION: Michigan 76, Kansas 75