In one of the most anticipated match-ups of the second round, Michigan blitzed the Rams from Virginia Commonwealth from seemingly the opening tip in route to a 25-point blowout victory. The Wolverines led by as many as 31 points in the second half before cruising late in the game, but for the majority of the final 20 minutes, the game was out of reach.
Entering the game, one of the biggest “keys to victory” for Michigan was how they would deal with the tenacious full-court defense from VCU. The Rams absolutely ran Akron off of the court in round one with their pressure, but they couldn’t affect Michigan’s offense on this day with Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, and company making calculated, smart decision to dissect the press in the early going. In addition, it is extremely difficult to set up a complete pressure defense without the benefit of made baskets on offense, and with Michigan holding VCU to just 39% from the field, that made things extremely difficult.
The MVP of the game for Michigan has to be Mitch McGary, who exploded for 21 points (10-11 FG) and 14 rebounds on the day. McGary’s motor is the stuff of legend already, and the freshman was insanely active on both ends of the court, seemingly in constant range of the ball, and affecting every action on both ends. In addition to McGary, Trey Burke (18 points, 7 assists) got things back on track after an ugly round one performance, and Tim Hardaway Jr. was electric at times, including a “showtime” dunk in the second half.
For VCU, they simply couldn’t get anything going offensively, shooting just 18.8% from three-point land (in addition to the aforementioned 39% from the field), and without the benefit of being competitive on the glass (where they were torched 36-21), they had little answer. I’ll stop short of saying that VCU was “exposed” on this day, because I do feel like they are a legitimate quality team, but it was a terrible match-up for them against a team with talented, semi-experienced guards, and their pressure failed to alter Michigan’s gameplan in any way.
Frankly, it was a stunningly efficient offensive performance from Michigan, and it reminded the country of the fact that a) this team’s “good” is very, very good, and b) this is a rare #4-seed with pedigree, as they reached #1 in the country during the season, and looked every bit like that caliber of team on Saturday afternoon. They’ll move on to face the winner of #1 Kansas/#8 North Carolina next week, and no matter which opponent they draw, the Wolverines will be, in my opinion, the more talented team. That’s a fantastic position to be in if you are John Beilein, and “Go Blue Nation” should be tremendously excited.