When most people look back on No. 4 Michigan's total domination of No. 5 VCU in the round of 32 on Saturday, they will point to the terrific guard play of the Wolverines as the key to the victory.
While the guard play may have helped the Wolverines advance to the Sweet 16, the play of their big man, Mitch McGary, may help them advance deeper into the tournament.
McGary, a freshman forward from Chesterton, IN, did not make a huge impact on the Wolverines' early season victories, but with his continued development and the struggles of senior Jordan Morgan, he has earned more playing time and taken advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
That was the case against VCU as McGary was handed the start over Morgan for the second straight game and he rewarded the Wolverines with a fantastic performance on all ends of the court.
McGary scored a team-high 21 points by shooting 10-of-11 from the field, his only miss came on an off-balance shot in the second half that he had no business throwing up at the basket.
Mitch McGary's career-high 21 Pts (10-11 FG) lift Michigan past VCU, 78-53. It's the Wolverines first trip to Sweet 16 since 1994.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 23, 2013
It was not just the scoring presence on the offensive end that McGary provided on Saturday that impressed Wolverine fans. McGary set two significant picks in the first half, one of which sent Briante Weber to the ground and caused Twitter to erupt.
Roger Goodell just fined Mitch McGary $10,000.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) March 23, 2013
mitch mcgary just cleaned out ol boy's sinuses.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 23, 2013
Dear VCU, it isn't Mitch McGary's fault that your guards crumple when they run into him as he stands still.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) March 23, 2013
McGary was a dominant presence on the boards as well by recording his season-high in rebounds with 14.
With McGary developing into his own and replacing Morgan in the starting lineup on a permanent basis, the Wolverines have an added threat to their already potent offense that could lead them all the way to the Final Four in Atlanta.
Most opposing scouting reports will focus on point guard Trey Burke and his fellow backcourt companions Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, and rightfully so. But now, another must-watch player will need to be added to that scouting report.
McGary will be called upon to control opposing big men on the defensive end against either No. 1 Kansas or No. 8 in the Sweet 16.
How Far Can Michigan Advance in NCAA Tournament?
Against Kansas, McGary would have his hands full with the Jayhawks' dynamic duo of Jeff Withey and Kevin Young and even if he can not be successful against the pair of big men, he would gain plenty of experience going up against those two terrific players.
The matchup in the paint that benefits McGary the most would be against North Carolina and James Michael McAdoo. If the Tar Heels upset the Jayhawks on Sunday, McGary would be able to easily exploit North Carolina's lack of size and send the Wolverines on their way to the Elite Eight.
No matter what McGary does for the rest of the NCAA tournament, his performance against VCU announced his presence to the nation and we could look back on Saturday's game as the game where McGary began his trip to stardom.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.