LaSalle from the Atlantic 10 handed the Big Ten their only loss when they beat Wisconsin Friday, and Michigan returned the favor when coach John Beilein and Breitbart Sports Player of the Year Trey Burke (both pictured) made child’s play of VCU and Shaka Smart’s “havoc” defense, 78-53. The Big Ten is now 7-1 and the Atlantic 10 is 6-1 in the NCAA tournament, and Michigan is the first team to make the Sweet 16.
A 14-2 run by the Wolverines that started with 10 minutes to go in the first half created a lead for Michigan that proved insurmountable for the poor shooting VCU Rams.
VCU has shut down many opposing point guards, but Burke has been the best player in the country for the season according to www.valueaddbasketball.com. He handled the vaunted VCU pressure that took them to the Final Four in 2011 and within one trip of upsetting Indiana in 2012.
Burke won the first half easily with 11 points and three assists, and even after VCU adjusted their traps to force him into five turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half. Burke made them pay when he did break it with beautiful passes leading to Michigan lay-ups.
Burke finished with 18 points and seven assists, many of them on inside passes to Mitch McGrary, who added 21 points and 14 assists. McGrary actually cost Burke one assist. Burke came up with a steal and fired it down to McGrary for an easy layup that would have resulted in an eighth assist for Burke. However, McGrary slowed down and instead dumped the ball to Tim Hardaway Jr., who threw down an athletics 180-dunk that forced a VCU timeout as the Michigan Crowd in Auburn Hills erupted. If it were a Redwings game, Burke could have received an assist for the pass before the pass, but instead he will have to be satisfied in showing again why he is the Breitbart Sports player of the year.
Roles seemed reversed on the defensive end with VCU coming into the game rated as one of the toughest defenses in the country. However, it was Michigan’s defense that was able to hold the Rams to 39% shooting on the day and create 11 VCU turnovers.
Michigan will face the winner of tomorrow’s UNC-Kansas match-up in the Sweet Sixteen.