Michigan point guard Trey Burke may have proven why he is the best collegiate basketball player this year, after carrying the Wolverines into the Elite 8 Friday night in Dallas, defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 87-85 in overtime.
The Wolverines join overall top-seeded Louisville, which knocked off the Oregon Ducks, 77-69; Duke, which defensively outplayed Michigan State, 71-61; and the Florida Gators, which ended the Cinderella run of Florida Gulf Coast, 62-50.
Burke, who finished with 23 points, did all of scoring in the second half and overtime. But no shot was bigger than the 3-pointer he took in the final moments of regulation to tie the game at 76-76, which led to the overtime victory.
“We never had the mindset that we were going to lose the game,” Burke said. “When we were down 14, we knew anything could still happen. It’s March, anything can happen.”
The Jay Hawks appeared to have the victory in hand as they controlled the pace of the game. With less than 7 minutes to go in the game, the Wolverines trailed by 14 points and it seemed that they were headed to the Elite 8 for the third straight year. Instead, they became the third No. 1 seed to fall in this tournament, joining Indiana and Gonzaga.
“Well, this will certainly go down as one of the toughest games that obviously we’ve been a part of and I’ve been a part,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “But props to Michigan for making all the plays late.”
On Sunday, the Wolverines will have the opportunity to face Florida, who ended the run of the Eagles. The Eagles garnered national publicity after demolishing Georgetown and San Diego State by throwing alley-oops, and are dubbed as “Dunk City.” The Eagles jumped out to an early 11-point lead, but the Gators defensive bite prove to be too much for them to handle. Florida never relinquished the lead after going on a 16-0 run late in the first half, entering the halftime with 30-26 lead.
“When they started their run, we didn’t have the energy we had in the other two games,” Eagles forward Chase Fieler said. “We weren’t playing with the same fire we were before.”
Duke was equally dominant against the Michigan State Spartans. Seth Curry, the brother Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, had a shooting clinic against the Spartans. He finished with 29 points, knocking down six 3-pointers.
“Seth was just at a different level than everyone else on the court offensively tonight,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “To get 29 points in a game like this against a good team is a just incredible.”
The Blue Devils will move on to face the Cardinals for the second time this season, but this time for a berth to the Final Four in Atlanta. Duke defeated Louisville in November 76-71 in the Battle for Atlantis Tournament, but the Cardinals were without center Gorgui Dieng who had a broken wrist on his non-shooting hand.