Michigan Basketball: X-Factors for Wolverines in Elite Eight Matchup

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 29:  Mitch McGary #4 of the Michigan Wolverines dunks pask Jeff Withey #5 of the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Michigan basketball is undoubtedly back.

The Wolverines beat the Kansas Jayhawks, 87-85, getting to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1994.

It was a win that didn't look to be on the cards for about the first 38 minutes of the game. Then the Wolverines rose to the occasion just as the Jayhawks wilted when it counted the most.

Trey Burke's three-pointer, with 4.2 seconds left, tied the game at 76-76. It was a shot as improbable as Michigan's comeback and eventual win.

On the whole, Burke didn't have a great game, despite scoring 23 points. The supporting cast was the deciding factor for the Wolverines. It will likely be the same case in the Elite Eight.

These three players will need to step up if Michigan is to make its first Final Four since the days of the Fab Five.


Mitch McGary

Burke was in fact not the leading scorer in the Sweet 16 win. That would have been Mitch McGary, who went for 25 points and 14 rebounds. Burke's three-pointer tied the game, but Michigan wouldn't have been in a position to even tie the game had it not been for McGary's performance.

He's found a completely different level in the tournament.

Only averaging 5.8 points a game, McGary has gone for double figures in each of the Wolverines' three tourney wins, including 21 points against the VCU Rams as well. McGary's also been very strong on the boards, bringing down 37 rebounds.


Glenn Robinson III

Glenn Robinson III was considered the lesser of the NBA sons, but he's been the superior throughout the Big Dance. Robinson's gone for a combined 47 points and 23 rebounds.

More importantly, he's been pretty efficient on the floor. Robinson has shot a scorching 66.7 percent thus far in the tournament.

Robinson's unlikely to go off and have a huge game, but the Wolverines will really need some consistency. Michigan can't simply rely on star players to shoot tons of shots. If those don't fall, the team wouldn't have a backup plan.

Another double-digit-points night with a couple of boards for Robinson would go a long way to getting Michigan into the Final Four again.


Nik Stauskas

Unlike many of the Wolverines' key contributors, Nik Stauskas has yet to get going. He's averaging 11.3 points a night, but has had two nights of scoring in single digits.

More importantly, Stauskas has yet to get going from long range. The freshman guard is a 43.4-percent shooter from behind the arc. In the tournament, Stauskas has only managed to go for a total of 2-of-12.

As with any shooter, it's just a matter of getting hot at the right time. Stauskas just doesn't have the same kind of confidence he did during the regular season. All it takes is knocking a couple of long-range shots down early in the game.


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