Tonight is home to possibly the best Sweet 16 matchup of the tournament. The Kansas Jayhawks will tip off against the Michigan Wolverines at 6:37 central time. The game, being played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is a rare meeting between two of the top programs in the country.
Look for the matchup between Kansas guard Travis Releford and Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. Releford’s strong defensive play could determine the outcome of the game. Hardaway Jr. has been averaging 17.5 points per game in the Wolverine’s two tournament games, but Travis Releford has the defensive ability to significantly decrease Burke’s scoring.
Also keep an eye on the Trey Burke matchup with Elijah Johnson. Johnson has had a disappointing season, but has proved to come up in tight situations. Burke, a sophmore, is arguably the player of the year, though. I think Johnson will come up big once again and hold Trey Burke to a sub-par night.
If Jeff Withey can have the same type of game against Michigan as he did against North Carolina, the Jayhawks have no reason to lose. Withey’s paint communication with Kevin Young is superb, and they are arguably the best big man duo in the NCAA this season. Watch for Young to draw double teams and then dish the ball to Withey for easy scores.
The X-factor in this game is Ben McLemore. Lately, McLemore has been playing at a level he has never seen, nor has the nation. In Kansas’ previous game versus North Carolina, McLemore went 0-9 from the field, 0-6 from three point range. If he can regain his shot, Kansas could cruise to a victory. Plus, I want to see him have a highlight-dunk. During the regular season, Ben McLemore soared for some spectacular dunks. If he can go on a one man breakaway, McLemore should put something special on a dunk to give Kansas the momentum.
I belive Kansas will come out on top. The Jayhawks have showed up for big games against some of the best teams and I do not see that changing today. Also, this is Michigan’s first Sweet Sixteen appearance since the Fab Five the early 1990’s. Kansas’ experience in the Sweet 16, eight appearances in the last ten years , will be beneficial to tonight’s game. Tipoff is at 6:37 p.m. on TBS, and the winner of this game will advance to play the winner of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.
Oh, and how about Florida Gulf Coast?