Michigan Basketball: NCAA Tournament — Sweet Sixteen — Michigan vs. Kansas — Wrap-up
Elite 8 here comes Michigan!
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Ends With A Confused Wizard — Michigan Beats Kansas With Wizardly Miracle
The Wizard of Oz handed out brains, courage, and plenty of heart. The Wizard handed out a little good fortune to a Michigan team that was headed for the morgue. Down double digits, with little time left, Michigan went on a mini-tear that ended up sending the game into overtime, with Trey Burke hitting an 88mm bombshell.
Before that point, there was plenty of ugliness in the Michigan defense and some unforced bad passes that gave Kansas at least minor control of the game. Incredibly, Kansas scored 60 points in the paint and lost. There will be many fans asking for a long time, how this bizarre phenomenon happened.
One explanation is that while Michigan did many things wrong, one thing the Wolverines did not do was quit. Second, Burke simply came alive and hit big shots to inch the Wolverines closer and closer, until all of a sudden the game was tied and headed to overtime. Third, Kansas did not provide a master lesson in end game execution, messing up time usage and shots just enough to give Michigan a long shot chance. Finally, whether faulty perception or not, Kansas appeared to have some tired legs deep into the overtime.
The failure of Michigan to mount any inside defense was brutal to watch. Kansas is big and deep inside, but Michigan again gave up nearly uncontested entry passes and Kansas took the ball down the middle for laughingly easy points: time after time. Kansas had been struggling on offense throughout the tournament, but again Michigan provided the tonic for poor offense as the Jayhawks shot well over 60% in the first half and 55% for the game.Michigan did not help with poor passes that let Kansas score even more easy points. The announcers were correct in hardly believing Michigan was still in the game.
Every one did just enough offensively to keep the Michigan team at least within sight of Kansas. Burke had some magnificent feeds, giving up many potential shots in the first half for Michigan scores, many times McGary being the beneficiary. In large part due to Burke getting warm at just the right time, Michigan edged closer to Kansas in offensive efficiency.
Coach Beilein had a reasonable but clearly mandated end game strategy, but it was a few key stops and key baskets by the players that made the eventual difference.
McGary, this time, did not play against smaller opponents; instead he played against one of the biggest and best defensive front lines in the nation. And the wild thing came away contributing heavily. His game is not orthodox by any stretch of the imagination, but that may just be a big advantage.In overtime, Michigan held a five-point lead but gave up a three on a curl around a screen Burke was late defending. Then, Kansas chose to play defense and let Michigan eat up a big part of the remaining time. After not hitting the rim on two shot opportunities, Michigan gives up the ball with plenty of time left, making the Kansas strategy look good. Kansas drove and had a 6-8 foot runner off the board to tie the game, but instead the ball was kicked out for an off balance winning shot that did not find the target.
For many days, week, and maybe even months, the Kansas faithful will be asking how the game against Michigan was lost. Michigan will not participate in the academic exchange. The Wolverines will simply focus on playing Florida, with the prize being the trip of a lifetime, a trip to the Final Four.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
Go Blue — Wear Maize!