(4) Michigan vs. (5) VCU
(4) Michigan Wolverines
In a game built around the battle at point guard between Michigan’s Trey Burke and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters, the two pretty much cancelled each other out. Wolters’ supporting cast put forth a valiant effort, but Burke’s was just better. Hardaway Jr. and Robinson went off for 21 apiece and the Wolverines moved onto the Round of 32 with a 71-56 victory. As a team the Wolverines made over half their attempts from the field and were a sizzling 9-20 from distance. The play of Robinson and McGary really bodes well for the Wolverines. On a day where even a lot of experienced players had some opening day jitters, they shined and played beyond their years. Against VCU the Wolverines will need to make sure that they take care of the ball, which they usually do. The Rams are going to try to force them out of their comfort zone offensively, putting a lot of pressure on Burke and Hardaway Jr. to make the right decisions. If their freshmen pick up where they left off, the Wolverines should remain dancing through the weekend.
(5) Virginia Commonwealth Rams
Even at full strength the Akron Zips would have a hard time contending with the Rams. On Thursday they were nowhere near full strength and as a result they got run out of the building 88-42. The Zips were missing their starting point guard due to suspension and three other members of their rotation were limited due to illness/injury. The Rams showed no mercy, forcing 21 turnovers and holding the Zips to 34 percent shooting from the field and 1-13 from beyond the three point line. Juvonte Reddic and Troy Daniels were on fire for the Rams. Daniels scored a game high 23 (8-13 FG, 6-11 3P), while Reddic (9-12 FG) chipped in 21. In the Round of 32 the Rams are going to be going up against a Michigan team with the guard play to not just withstand their pressure defense, but attack it. If the Rams can manage to slow down Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., they will be in a prime position to earn a spot in the Sweet 16. They’ll have to be tough on the frontline as well, though, with freshmen Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary playing with such confidence.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Michigan. The Wolverines’ guard play will shine under pressure and lead them to the next round.