No. 4 Michigan ranks among the best shooting teams in America, and when they’re on from the perimeter the Wolverines are a very tough team to beat. So how did John Beilein’s team beat No. 9 Michigan State 58-57 despite shooting 0-of-12 from beyond the arc?
The sophomore point guard was the difference for the Wolverines (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten), scoring 21 points, dishing out eight assists (two turnovers) and racking up five steals. And dunk after picking Keith Appling’s pocket with just over 20 seconds remaining gave Michigan a 58-56 lead.
The Spartans (22-7, 11-5) failed to get off a final shot as Burke picked up another steal, giving the Wolverines a much-needed win following their loss at Penn State on Wednesday. Burke scored 18 points in the 84-78 loss to the Nittany Lions but he finished with as many turnovers (six) as assists.
As Burke goes so goes Michigan, as evidenced by his teammates occasionally leaning too heavily on the sophomore to make something happen offensively. Tim Hardaway Jr. shot 3-of-12 from the field and Mitch McGary was the only other Wolverine to reach double figures, scoring 11 points off the bench. Michigan needed Burke to deliver and he did just that, making plays on both ends of the floor to get the Wolverines over the finish line.
The Wolverines were also out-rebounded 44-29, with Michigan State grabbing 19 offensive rebounds (16 second chance points). But Michigan State also turned the ball over 18 times, which prevented them from taking advantage of Michigan’s poor perimeter shooting.
Is Burke the best player in college basketball? That’s certainly up for debate, with players such as Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr., Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Creighton’s Doug McDermott among the players also in the discussion.
But Burke certainly has a case, and his impact on Sunday’s outcome is the latest example of just how important he is to Michigan.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: