In the days since Michigan fell to Ohio State in the Big 10 Tournament it seems that some of the national confidence in the Wolverines’ NCAA tournament viability has waned a bit. Several national college analysts have picked MAC Champions Ohio University to knock off the Maize & Blue Friday night in Nashville. Not much has changed internally though. John Beilein and company remain confident and focused. Those ingredients have helped them avoid back to back losses all season. That said, the stakes are much higher than in any other game that has followed a loss and the opponent is far from a pushover.
“We’re trying to figure out some of things of what Ohio University does and what’s the best way (to attack them),” said Beilein. “To go to Marshall and win, to play Louisville a very tight game I think they led most of the game, they’re obviously a very talented team with a great coach and doing the right thing.”
One of the major keys to victory for Michigan will be the performance of Trey Burke. Handling the pressure of playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time is often a daunting task for many youngsters, but it’s not expected to be for the Wolverines’ young floor general.
“I think that he’s as solid as they come and he’ll bounce back and be more than alright,” said senior Zack Novak. “I haven’t said anything to him since probably we went to Maui about him getting ready for an environment, he’s just, he’s not phased by anything, there’s a reason he’s a second team All-American as a freshman. Nothing needs to be said to him.”
“He had this incredible freshman year but he is not the type of young man that would have a performance that should probably be more expected of a freshman,” said Beilein. “He had a few very expected freshman games where it’s you’re playing against good players and you’re not going to have the best day everyday especially when you compare it to the night before where he was the best point guard in the country (against Minnesota).”
The confident leadership from Novak and fellow senior Stu Douglass has been instrumental in the Wolverines success this year. Now with the end of their Michigan careers on the horizon, they are determined to make them last as long as possible.
“Obviously there’s a different sense of urgency from a personal standpoint and there’s always that different focus. You really want this more than ever, you really want to have a good end to my college career,” said Douglass. “It’s different emotions and pressures but I don’t really know how to explain it. We want the same success we had when we went as freshmen and last year but I think emotionally it changes thing’s a little bit.”
The Wolverines tip it off with the Bobcats this Friday night at 7:20pm ET from Nashville, TN.