College Basketball Insider

Michigan will need a better version of Trey Burke late Monday

ATLANTA -- Trey Burke took eight shots, missed seven and finished with just a single field goal for the first time in 38 games this season and third time in his two-year college career.

And Michigan still won late Saturday.

So Michigan will play Louisville for the national title.

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"It feels great to be playing on Monday night," Burke said following the Wolverines' 61-56 victory over Syracuse here at the Georgia Dome. "It's a dream come true."

Following a nightmare performance.

Man, was Trey Burke terrible or was Trey Burke terrible?

The recently named John R. Wooden Award winner missed every shot that he took in the second half in addition to a free throw in the final 30 seconds that helped keep Syracuse's hope of a late comeback alive. Burke entered this game averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 assists while shooting 46.4 percent from the field. In this game, he got seven points and four assists while shooting 12.5 percent from the field.

"It was an off night for me," Burke said. "I try not to force things, though. I took two or three shots that were kind of forced. But I tried to just get guys involved. I knew that their whole game plan was to try to make me shoot tough, contested threes. I tried to get the ball into the middle [of Syracuse's zone] as much as possible, tried to hit the open man, tried to contribute in different ways other than scoring."

Which he did, to some degree, I guess. But this was still a miserable performance on a big stage in front of 75,530 fans ranging from Will Ferrell to Floyd Mayweather, and it's difficult to know exactly what to make of it. On one hand, the Wolverines should feel great about proving they can beat an elite team without their best player playing well. That's what Tim Hardaway Jr. said, at least. "It's not a one-man team," Hardaway said. "Everybody in the media has been talking about it. That's why it's a team. It's a team-win. That's what we focus on. We know Trey is our leader, but he's not [always going to be great]. That's when our team steps up." On the other hand, the Wolverines should be concerned that Burke is just 6-of-24 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range in their past two games. That's what I think, at least, because I can't imagine a scenario under which Michigan beats Louisville late Monday without Burke performing well. And by well, I mean terrifically.

Just being the Wooden Award winner isn't enough anymore.

Burke must play like somebody worthy of that honor.

Or else Rick Pitino will be the first basketball coach to win titles at two different schools.

 
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