Michigan's Burke to face major test in South Dakota State's Wolters
Noah Trister, AP Sports Writer
10:48 PM, Mar 17, 2013
11:00 PM, Mar 17, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Even Trey Burke hasn't scored 53 points in a game this season, so the Michigan star will be tested right away in the NCAA tournament when the Wolverines take on Nate Wolters and South Dakota State.
Burke is the Big Ten player of the year. Wolters is one of the nation's leading scorers. Two of the NCAA tournament's top point guards face each other Thursday when the fourth-seeded Wolverines play the 13th-seeded Jackrabbits in Auburn Hills.
"I know they have a really good point guard in Nate Wolters, but I don't know anything else really," Burke said Sunday. "We'll scout them tomorrow and obviously on Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll look into them. We know that they're a really good team. Any team that's playing in the NCAA tournament is good."
Michigan (26-7) was once ranked No. 1 in the country, but the Wolverines took a few lumps during a tough Big Ten schedule. Michigan ended up with the same seed as last season, when the Wolverines were upset in their NCAA tournament opener by Ohio.
Michigan will have one potential advantage this year. It will start the tournament in Auburn Hills, which is only about 50 miles from the school's Ann Arbor campus.
"It's a neutral site, but we'll definitely have a lot of fans there," Burke said. "It's very close to home."
Michigan is in the South Regional. Rival Michigan State is in the Midwest — and the Spartans will open in Auburn Hills too.
South Dakota State (25-9) won the Summit League tournament to earn the conference's automatic NCAA bid for the second straight year. The Jackrabbits won at New Mexico in December, and Wolters scored 53 points in a Feb. 7 win over IPFW. The 6-foot-4 senior averages 22.7 points per game.
Now Wolters and the Jackrabbits will try to contain Burke, who has emerged as one of the nation's best players.
"He's a good player. I've watched them a couple times. They're really talented and have good guards," Wolters said. "I think they like to get up and down a little bit, so it should be faster pace."
Michigan has gone 6-6 in its last 12 games after a 20-1 start. Of course, that was against a schedule that included a steady diet of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State down the stretch.
"I feel great about our team, I feel great about our season," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We've got some things to shore up, obviously, but with the roster that we put out there, this is a heck of a year."
When the Wolverines have struggled, the main culprit has been their defense. When Michigan lost to Ohio a year ago, the Wolverines let the Bobcats shoot 51 percent from the field. D.J. Cooper scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
That's the type of output Wolters is eminently capable of, so the Wolverines are on notice: They'll need to come up with a plan to contain the experienced South Dakota State scoring standout to reduce the chance of another upset.
"It's not where it needs to be, but our defense has improved," Burke said. "We're definitely still maturing as a defensive team."
Wolters has already scored enough this season to catch Michigan's attention. By the time Thursday rolls around, Burke will have no doubt seen plenty of film on his next adversary.
"Like I said, I've heard he's really good. I think he's averaging around 22 points — that's impressive," Burke said. "I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's exciting."
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