Will the 2013 NCAA Tournament be sophomore point guard Trey Burke's last showing in a Michigan uniform? Most believe so, and even Burke is starting to tip his hand a bit. That and more basketball notes heading into Friday's Sweet 16 match-up with Kansas …
Burke told Dan Patrick on his radio show a long run could expedite his departure.
"It would probably definitely make my decision much easier, which is to leave," he said. "Because that's really today's culture. If you get that far as a team, you have those opportunities, you definitely have to look into them and make sure you're making the right decision."
Head coach John Beliein said earlier this week he hoped to build a culture that makes it tough for kids to leave. Burke, though, has already won a championship in Ann Arbor (Big Ten, last year), is the Big Ten (and NCAA) player of the year and the Sweet 16 was the next logical step in the program's progression.
Realistically, and by almost all accounts, he'll leave after this season, projected as a top 10 pick by several analysts.
"It's a lot of pressure," Burke said. "If you have the opportunity, it's something you have to think about very hard. It reminded me of my recruiting process going into college.
"Last year, I didn't know if I was going to come back to school, but once I talked to my parents and coaching staff and got some of their advice, I knew the best decision for me was to come back to school. But as a 19-year-old kid, it's definitely a lot of pressure. You have a lot of different advice and different people talking to you. You just have to pick the right advice."
Burke said he'd sit down with his family and coaches after the season to discuss - hopefully after the Final Four in Atlanta next week. Barring a miracle, though, his Michigan days are winding down.
Burke leans on McGary
Freshman big man Mitch McGary was the big story in U-M's drubbing of VCU in the round of 32, notching 21 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Trey Burke told our John Borton he tried to do his part by lighting a fire under the 6-10 standout (whose head was Photoshopped - appropriately - on to Disney character Wreck-It Ralph's body following a performance in which he scored, set bone-crushing picks, defended and owned the glass.
"I told him before the game: 'I need you for 40 minutes, from the get-go,'" Burke told Borton. "I need you to be one of the best players out there.' He's our X-factor. He's a spark, a guy that brings us intensity throughout the whole game.
"I came to him at halftime and said, 'I know you're tired, because I'm tired out there. You can't let the team give up. You've just got to keep fighting through it, and that's what he did.'"
Don't bet against the Wolverines wearing their maize(ish) highlighter jerseys tomorrow against the Jayhawks. The days of white seem to be long gone since these are all big games - plus, Burke loves the maize.
"Those were one of my favorite jerseys," he said. "It definitely feels good to put those jerseys on. Every time I put a jersey on for Michigan, I want to go out here and play like it's my last game, because I know I'm not just representing myself but the school, as well."
Junior Tim Hardaway Jr. will have his own decision to make about his future following the tournament, and his will probably be a little more difficult. It seems like yesterday he approached head coach John Beilein following a 1-6 Big Ten start - just before the Wolverines turned the program around with a critical win at Michigan State.
"I didn't come here to lose, Coach," he told Beilein.
Beilein's response: "Neither did I."
U-M has arrived, of course, and now it's about staying here. Hardaway will be remembered as one of those who helped change the program's culture.
"I didn't even know really much about Michigan basketball or Michigan football," he told Jim Rome on Rome's show recently. "I was brought up in Miami, Florida, with Hurricanes, FSU and Florida. Those were the big-name schools where I was.
"All of a sudden, my sophomore year, they looked at me the first time and stuck with me the entire way - how I was doing in school, grades, and it was great to have them give me the opportunity to play for coach Beilein. It was a great opportunity."
Finally, we all know match-ups are analyzed (and over-analyzed) like crazy this time of year. Some breakdowns are better than others, though, and Nropp.com provides six analysts' opinions with outstanding detail.
Interestingly, four of the six pick Michigan to win … and three of them expect the Wolverines to win by eight points or more.
For the breakdown, follow this link: Nropp.com.