NCAA Tournament: Michigan vs. Kansas Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
MICH 87 1.15 35-71 49% 27-48 56% 8-23 35% 9-17 53% 14 24 18 10 7 1 12
KU 85 1.12 36-66 55% 30-50 60% 6-16 38% 7-10 70% 7 28 21 13 5 8 17

Trey Burke finally has his moment.

This wasn’t the first time Michigan’s point guard put the team on his back but he’s never managed anything quite like this. Not in March, not in the NCAA tournament and certainly not in front of 40,639 fans at Cowboys Stadium.

If Burke’s career had ended against Kansas it would still be regarded as a success. His trophy case would include a Big Ten Championship, Freshman of the Year, All-American and likely Player of the Year honors.

But Burke wasn’t finished, even when it appeared Michigan was.

Jeff Withey’s dunk with 2:52 to play looked to seal the deal. The Jayhawks were up 10 points with less than three minutes to go and appeared to be headed to the Elite Eight – again. How confident was I that Michigan’s season was coming to an end? I had already booked a different flight for Saturday morning.

Luckily the Wolverines had a bit more backbone. Michigan closed regulation on a 14-4 run over the final two minutes and a half minutes to force overtime. Burke scored 14 of Michigan’s final 25 points including the 30-foot three that sent the game to overtime.

This was Burke’s moment but the win was about Michigan, a team that’s battled through dramatic highs and lows all season and wasn’t ready to quit.

“It’s a bunch of young men that have high character, they play to win.  They play together,” John Beilein explained. “And they’ve been persistent all year long at trying to do their best, without any types of ups and downs getting in the way.”

Almost every one of Burke’s teammates played a role in the comeback. Tim Hardaway Jr. rebounded the free throw that led to Burke’s shot. Jordan Morgan, all but forgotten at the end of the bench in recent weeks, dug out a loose ball that led to a Glenn Robinson III layup. Robinson also added the clinching free throws down the stretch. Nik Stauskas chipped in an assist while Mitch McGary dominated the paint and scored six points in the final seven minutes of play.


There’s no stat to point to which explains how Michigan won this game. Kansas dominated for 37 minutes but the Wolverines simply had No. 3 on their roster. Michigan rebounded a higher percentage of its missed shots but Kansas actually outscored the Wolverines 16-12 in second chance points. Michigan got to the line more often but converted just 9-of-17 free throws. The Wolverines won the turnover battle but the Jayhawks actually turned the ball over less often than they have on average this season.

Michigan held a pair of one-point leads in the opening minutes but, for all intents and purposes, Kansas led by an arm’s length throughout. Michigan deserves credit for hitting just enough timely shots to keep within striking distance but the Jayhawks controlled play. But Trey Burke’s 30-footer with four seconds left finished the rope-a-dope strategy and the Wolverines were able to seal the deal in overtime.

Ken Pomeroy’ win probability graph says it all:

Win probability via KenPom

How dire were Michigan’s odds? The Wolverines’ win probability bottomed at .6% with 2:33 to play.

Michigan scored 1.15 points per possession against the Jayhawks, the fourth best offensive performance Kansas has allowed this season. Even more impressive is Michigan’s 1.26 points per trip in the game’s final 25 minutes. The Wolverine defense hovered between below-average and awful throughout the game but the offense just kept scoring. Michigan’s offense improved as the initial shock factor of Jeff Withey wore off. The Wolverines shot just 47% on two point attempts in the first half compared to 63% in the second half and overtime.

Michigan’s defense was never very good but eventually Kansas missed a few shots. Allowing 1.12 points per game in the NCAA tournament will usually get you beat but Michigan deserves some credit for cleaning up the few Kansas misses that did come about. Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr. were Michigan’s most effective defensive rebounders and helped the Wolverines grab over 77% of Kansas’ misses. Michigan was unable to force many turnovers despite the Jayhawks sloppy nature but did prevent free throw attempts for the most part.

Next up for Michigan is a date with Florida on Sunday afternoon. The Gators have cruised to the Elite Eight with wins over Northwestern State, Minnesota and Florida Gulf Coast and sit at the top of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The matchup can wait, Michigan is 40 minutes away from the Final Four.


Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: This game will live with Trey Burke forever. This was Michigan’s 2005 Illinois-Arizona moment and is one of those unforgettable tournament moments that make the whole thing so special. And while the first 100 minutes of Burke’s NCAA tournament were somewhat forgettable, the last 25 were anything but. This was just a special player making special plays, there’s not much more to say. The final stats: 23 points (all in the second half or overtime) on 9-of-21 (4-11 3pt) shooting with 10 assists to four turnovers.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary has emerged in the NCAA tournament as the player that many imagined he could be. That’s especially impressive because there were a lot of times this season where that seemed like a pipe dream. McGary struggled to stop Jeff Withey but he was a game changer offensively: 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting, 14 rebounds (4 offensive) and three steals in 35 minutes. McGary is averaging 19.7 points and 12.3 rebounds in NCAA tournament games and he’s starting to treat the Big Dance like it’s the Pitt Jam Fest in April of 2011. McGary’s plus-minus for the game: +16.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway didn’t play his best game, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting (1-3 3pt), five rebounds and three assists but he hit some big shots when Michigan needed them. When he left the game with three fouls mid-way through the second half it was clear how badly the Wolverines needed him on the floor.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas really struggled on the defensive end of the floor but the Jayhawks’ athleticism on the wing was a tough guard. Ben McLemore snapped out of this slump in a big way – 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting (after missing his first five shots) – and Stauskas spent a lot of time chasing him around the perimeter, unsuccessfully. However, the 6-foot-6 guard was aggressive in finding some offensive opportunities despite going just 1-of-4 from long range, he was 3-of-3 inside the arc, got to the free throw line four times, and handed out three assists to one turnover.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson, like Stauskas, struggled defensively against Kevin Young and Perry Ellis. Both players abused him on the low block and also had some timely tip ins; their combined stat lines: 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting with 12 rebounds (5 offensive). While he struggled defensively, Robinson made big plays down the stretch with six critical points. He finished with 13 points and eight rebounds (five offensive) and three steals in 42 minutes of work.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan only played five minutes but was productive, especially given what he’s been through in the last two weeks. He was active defensively, grabbing three rebounds, and made 2-of-4 free throws while missing his only field goal attempt. Was it a great game? No, but he was out there hustling for loose balls down the stretch and was critical to Michigan’s win.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht ended up playing 11 minutes, the most of Michigan’s reserves. He had a big first half three but also turned the ball over and was a bit overmatched by Kansas’ size and quickness on the perimeter.  With LeVert struggling offensively, Albrecht seems to be Beilein’s first option for backup minutes on the perimeter.
  • Jon Horford: Morgan’s performance was critical because Horford struggled. He was swatted on his only field goal attempt, didn’t record a rebound and Michigan was outscored by 12 points during his seven minutes of playing time.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert’s offensive impact has all but disappeared but there’s probably no one more relieved that Kansas’ last shot in regulation and overtime didn’t go in – as he was defending both in a scarily Brust-like situation.
  • mmmmFAZpizza

    The last 3 minutes of this game might just make up for the last 19 years of our program. Finally the luck was on our side. Finally the crazy clutch shot was on our side. Moments like “Evan Turner”, “Ben Brust” and “the timeout” still haunt my dreams…but now we finally have something to replace those nightmares. Heck, this might even make up for Appalachain State! So many guys have “almost” brought Michigan back to prominence (LaVell, Jamal, Danny, Manny) and I love them all for trying, but we should have known it would take an Ohio kid to do it. Burke is now at Desmond/Woodson status as one of our school’s greatest legends.

    And McGary…well if he stays, we might have back to back national POYs on our hands. Our best big man since another #4.

    I don’t care what happens Sunday, it’s GREAT to be a Michigan Wolverine.

    • gobluemd16


    • David

      “We should have known it would take an Ohio kid to do it. Burke is now at Desmond/Woodson status as one of our school’s greatest legends.”

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Someone forgot to tell Trey you don’t have to shoot the ball from Ann Arbor. I guess he just feels comfortable from there.

  • Bird

    Dylan, is there no perpetual “Make a Donation” option on UMHoops? I want to pick up your re-re-booking fee!

    • Thanks :-)

      There’s a donate link in the top bar to this page:

      Luckily we flew Southwest so change fees are free though.

      • catwomanrx

        Dylan, Is it also possible that when you post the “our factors” graph you could use two totally different colors? For example, not dark blue and light blue, but maybe blue for Michigan and orange for Kansas (or whatever color the other team has)? Sometimes, it’s very difficult to see especially on smaller screens. Thank you.

        • catwomanrx

          *four factors. sorry keyboard issues!

    • umhoopsfan

      Very nice of you!

    • JDR

      I want to express a similar sentiment – Dylan, you’re doing amazing work! I’ll be donating when my next paycheck comes through…

  • Ku Fan

    I sincerely apologize to all MU fans and supporters for the terrible actions of our player when he intentionally hit a MU player in the groin. We do not do that, or at least we aren’t supposed to do that. Good luck on Sunday

    • JimC

      Apology accepted. But note, we go by U of M (not “MU”).

  • JimC

    A ranking of landmark wins in the past 20 years:

    4) Tractor Traylor & Co. beat Duke, AT Duke, 1997. Crazies cry in the stands after.
    3) Sims, Novak, Manny & team beat a pair of #4’s (UCLA & Duke) in 2008 en route to the first tourney bid in 11 seasons.
    2) Stu puts the dagger into MSU at Breslin, Jan 2010, turns entire season around.
    1) Trey (+McGary) puts team on back, overcomes KS in OT, for first Elite 8 since ’94.
    What am I missing?

    • Fab 5 Legends

      Fab 5 runs…20 years still fits the resume…the real achievement is Glen Rice

    • Fab 5 Legends

      damn were some great moments…im youtubing those moments right now…trying to find them…#3 and #4 was like resurrecting the PROGRAM

    • gpsimms

      These games don’t rank as high as the ones you’ve listed, but in terms of landmark Beilein wins, I think I’d have to include the Clemson win in the first round and the Tennessee beatdown with Stu flying over people’s heads.

      That 2008 season had a ton of crazy finishes that if we don’t pull them off, we don’t dance.

      Remember LLP witht he ugliest game tying buzzer beating 3 in the history of the world to take the crappiest IU team in history to OT? (Where we won).

      Or Zack missing the game winning dunk against Savannah State, but then Peedi with a buzzer beater in OT.

      Same with 2010:

      Morgan hits FTs at Iowa, etc.

      Any one of those don’t go our way and we don’t go to the dance those years.

    • jemblue

      Nitpick – the Breslin win was in 2011.

  • gpsimms

    What an idiot:

    “I don’t know, this feels like a bad matchup to me. Unlike VCU, Kansas plays great defense whether we turn the ball over or not…”


    “…Our offense is at its best when we are shooting well and rebounding. No one really shoots well against Kansas, and I think we will struggle on the glass….”


    “…Kansas plays good offense except when you turn them over, we don’t really turn people over. Kansas is a good shooting team and everyone shoots well against our defense…”

    ok, so that is still true

    “…Whithey is the type of big that can really make McGary look like a freshman (please JMo come back!)…Hope I’m wrong, of course! Go Blue!”


    Trey Burke is also forgiven for every terrible step back three he’s taken to end a game/half(at Arkansas, at Ohio State, vs. Ohio, etc., etc.) Apparently the basketball luck Gods DO have memory and knew it was way past due for us to have a crazy miracle.

  • JimC

    Dylan you changed your flight?! NEVER GIVE UP! Ha, I had given up long before you! Great recap! Get some rest.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    i watched the entire game until 4min…thought kansas was going to continue to overwhelm us…this puts MOMENTUM MICHIGAN…i can see the final four more so than ever before…Florida didnt play that convicongly against gulf coast

    • jemblue

      You didn’t see the finish? How did you find out what happened?

  • Wayman Britt

    Wow great come back. Trey was due. He has missed a few end of game shots this year, but saved the makes for when it counts.

    Cannot wait for the scouting report on Florida. I hope Beilein spends most of practice today shoring up the defense.

  • JeremyS

    I still can’t believe that comeback happened. Who is this McGary guy that is scoring 20 points a game? I can’t comprehend what I am seeing from him.

    From Mitch McGary
    and Blake Griffin (2009) are the only players in the last 15 seasons
    with consecutive games of 21+ points and 14+ rebounds in the Men’s
    Basketball Championship. He is just the 6th player since seeding began
    in 1979 to have two such games in a single Men’s Basketball Championship

    Most Games with 21+ Pts, 14+ Reb in a Single Tournament – Men’s Basketball Championship, Since 1979
    2009 Blake Griffin 3*
    2013 Mitch McGary 2*
    1995 Joe Smith 2*
    1995 Antonio McDyess 2*
    1990 Tyrone Hill 2
    1979 Larry Bird 2
    *consecutive games

  • Dr_ZC

    Focus and great point guard play. Images of the 1993 NCAA final against NC. A missed one-and-one, rebound Michigan, ball to the point guard with the brass junk, game tied. If the 1993 Fab 5 team had focus and a true PG, we would have our second championship.

    It was very interesting to see that JB substituded Mitch with Morgan at the end of the game for defense, despite the fact that Mitch had a monster game.

    • rlcBlue

      Beilein’s defense for offense substitutions (Morgan/LeVert for McGary/Stauskas) worked perfectly – well, let’s face it: everything had to work perfectly for this comeback to happen.

  • Chazer

    Wow what a great morning! These kids are special and hope they can get past Florida. This means so much to the program and the future of UM hoops. Mitch is playing out of his mind! I still feel like there is more in the tank and that Nicky three ball is going to come alive.

    Thanks to all on this board and the UM hoops staff….great content and coverage.

  • Northern Blue

    Love the match up against Florida. I Think Timmy and Nik can exploit the 4 inch size advantage they will have against whoever is guarding them… GR3 will need to crowd Murphy and use his quickness against him on offence. If McGary can outplay Withey, he can outplay Young. What an amazing win, just incredible. I smell a final four. GO BLUE.

  • gobluemd16

    You guys have basically said it all. What an amazing night. All I can do is smile and appreciate what this team is doing. That was just a special game in every sense of the word. Karma came back to bite Kansas in the balls, and we finally got our luck after all those ridiculous shots (Ohio State, Wisco twice, Arkansas, etc.) The work still isn’t done, let’s make the final four! I now know what pure happiness feels like, thank you Trey, Mitch, and the rest of the guys.

  • MGoTweeter

    unreal. What a great game and huge win for the players, the coaches, the Michigan program, the school and the fans. That was one of those games that just left you speechless after. The only thing that I could think of was that I just witnessed something that I will never forget.

    Kansas really played well albeit aided by a sieve that was the Michigan defense for most of the game. But those kids never hung their head, never gave up and just continued to answer every shot that Kansas gave them. Until they finally strung some stops together and then seized the moment.

    I wish their was more time between games to continue this feeling but tomorrow is a new day and presents a new challenge. It will be very interesting to see how the team responds tomorrow after one of the most emotionally and physically draining games I have ever seen. No matter what happens from here on out these kids are winners and all I can do is thank them for giving all of us fans memories that will last a lifetime.

  • Ku Fan

    My bad….. UM fans…. good luck Saturday.