That escalated quickly.
The fourth-seeded Michigan Wolverines routed VCU 78-53 behind a monster game from freshman big man Mitch McGary, who led the team with a career-high 21 points and 14 rebounds.
VCU was a match-up that few teams wanted in the NCAA Tournament, due to coach Shaka Smart and his patented “Havoc” full court defense. Not only did Michigan break the press perfectly, they also were able to beat the Rams at their own game: creating turnovers and running the other team right off of the floor.
Trey Burke was back to his Player of the Year form, with 18 points and seven assists. Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr also chipped in, both scoring 14 points of their own.
John Beilein had his team perfectly prepared for this game right from the opening tip off. The way to beat VCU and break down their defense is make several passes and convert on open looks, and they were able to do just that.
I saw a fire in this Michigan team that we have not seen since early on this year. All along, I’ve felt that Michigan had a run in them and was due to get hot, and through the opening weekend of the tournament, they have been able to do just that. GR3 is showing his potential now and Tim Hardaway Jr is converting on his opportunities.
What Michigan fans should be most encouraged by is Mitch McGary. We’ve all been clamoring for him to start all season and truth be told, have been quite frustrated by his playing time, but I think this was Beilein’s plan all along.
Coming into his freshman year, it was clear that McGary needed to get in shape and probably would not be able to handle the grind of a full season right off of the bat. The staff used him enough to make a big impact, but now I think we are starting to see the results of keeping a guy like McGary fresh. He was clearly the best player on the floor against VCU.
With two opening weekend wins, Michigan is headed to their first Sweet 16 appearance since the 1994 season, and this is where it is all about to get interesting. The Wolverines now head to Dallas to take on the winner of (1) Kansas vs. (8) North Carolina on Friday. I think they match-up very well against either of these two teams and that whoever comes their way, Michigan will have a golden opportunity to play for a spot in the Final Four by the end of next weekend.
A game time or TV schedule has been been announced as of yet, but we should have that information by Sunday evening.
Stat of the game: Michigan outscored VCU 27-4 in transition in yesterday’s game.
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