Trey Burke's incredible finish during the Sweet 16 against Kansas deserves a deep rewind
Updated: Jun 23, 2022
It’s March 29th, 2013. The Sweet 16, otherwise known as the Regional Semifinals, is taking place between the Kansas Jayhawks and Michigan Wolverines.
In a surprising twist, the lower-seeded Wolverines are up by 2 points on the #1-seeded Jayhawks.
It’s definitely not shocking that the Wolverines are currently winning. Rather, it’s surprising for anyone who turned off the game when Kansas led by 11 points late in the second half.
Not only did Kansas blow a double-digit lead during regulation, but their odds of winning were over 99 percent with under 3 minutes to play.
That doesn’t matter anymore though, and with under 10 seconds left in overtime, Kansas needs a practical miracle shot to force double-OT. Even crazier, they could win at the buzzer with a 3.
So can the Jayhawks pull off the incredible full court drive to the basket to tie things up at 87? We’ll find out in 10 short seconds.
But for now, let’s see how we got here. Kansas blew a huge lead earlier tonight, but how? To answer that question, we need to rewind.
Remember when I said it’s not shocking that Michigan is beating Kansas? Well, for starters, SB Nation only gave Kansas a 2-point edge. A two-point spread is not exactly a comfortable betting edge for gamblers, even though Kansas is 11-and-2 against the spread in its last 13 games
This front court matchup also features the National Player of the Year in Trey Burke. Burke, who actually grew up in Columbus, decided to become the arch enemy of the Buckeye faithful and instead attended the much-hated Michigan Wolverines.
Burke manned the point for the Wolverines, and even as a true freshman, head coach John Beilein (BEE-line) felt comfortable putting him on the court for over 1,200 minutes of game action. His 1,227 minutes logged ranked second in school history. However, Burke’s Wolverines finished the 2012 postseason by losing in the first round to the Ohio Bobcats.
To be fair, Ohio was a great team in 2012 who ended up finishing in the Sweet 16. Still, alumni from Ann Arbor began wondering if Michigan would ever return to the heights of the Fab Five era. For all of those non-history fans, Michigan was once a basketball king for college hoopers. Future Hall of Famer Chris Webber led the Fab Five recruiting class, and Jalen Rose played for the Wolverines as well. Incredibly, future NBA player Juwan Howard was the third best player during the Fab Five era.
The Fab Five got its name since all five of its starting players were Top 25 national recruits. However, the Fab Five never won a national championship game together. It seemed like the only detriment to the era was not winning a national title game, and Webber became the laughing stock of college basketball when he infamously called a timeout when his team no longer had one during the title game against North Carolina.
But the major problem of the Fab Five was the scandal following it. Notable U of Michigan booster Ed Martin made payments to players by laundering money through an illegal gambling operation. It was such a huge scandal that the FBI, IRS, NCAA, Big Ten Conference, and United States Department of Justice all had to investigate the matter.
The scandal inevitably led to Steve Fisher being fired from the program in 1997, although the NCAA investigation didn’t find him culpable of any wrongdoing. In total, four former players from the Michigan basketball program, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, and Webber, collected a grand total of $616,000 from Martin.
The scandal forced Michigan to vacate its appearances in back-to-back national championship games, and Webber even got charged for perjury during the trial of Ed Martin’s illegal gambling operations. The NBA suspended the Sacramento Kings power forward three games during the 2002 season, with the University of Michigan disassociating itself from him until later this year in 2013. The Wolverines deleted Webber’s records from the basketball program’s records book. All because Webber admitted to giving Martin about $38,000 in cash during his amateur status as a student-athlete at Michigan. Webber admitted that the 38K was in reference to repayment for expenditures Martin did on his behalf.
Because of the scandal, Michigan became known as the program “the best college basketball team that money can buy,” and it hurt their recruiting pitch towards players for several years. The basketball team missed the NCAA Tournament every year from 1998-2006, but when Beilein became the head coach in 2007, things started to turn around rather quickly.
In 2009, the Wolverines returned to the tournament and even upset Clemson during Round 1. In 2011, Michigan barely lost to Duke during the Round of 32 by a final score of 73-71. The Wolverines weren’t quite back yet, but at least the stench of the Fab Five was slowly but surely going away.
The stench of the Fab Five was similar to that of a skunk, though. The Wolverines lost one scholarship for four consecutive seasons due to the scandal, and they even had to vacate their involvement in the 1997 NIT and 1998 Big Ten tournaments.
The best way to get people to forget about Ed Martin and the Wolverines? Well, Al Davis said it best:
“Just win baby.”
The 2012 Wolverines began to start doing that consistently. A 13-5 finish in conference play saw the Wolverines, Buckeyes, and Michigan State Spartans all recorded the same record. It was the first Big Ten title of any kind for Michigan since 1986.
But the sting of last year’s first-round exit to Ohio was still prevalent for many of the returning players. Whether the Wolverines were playing with a vengeance during the fall and winter of 2012 is unclear, but whatever the reason, Michigan was at one point the No. 1 team in the nation according to the Associated Press. They started the year at 21-and-2 and seemed to be unbeatable. In fact, the Wolverines started the year at 16-and-0.
The Wolverines couldn’t figure out Indiana, and after getting swept by the Hoosiers during the regular season finale, Michigan entered the 2013 NCAA Tournament with a meager Big Ten quarterfinal defeat.
Michigan hasn’t been playing terribly since their undefeated beginning, but they’re also just 10-7 in their last 17 games.
Meanwhile, Kansas is 5-0 in its last five games and has only lost once since early February. It’s not impossible for Michigan to pull off the upset, but the Wolverines will have to turn into the team from the calendar year of 2012, not so much the one basketball fans have seen in 2013.
After somewhat of a scare to 16-seed Western Kentucky, the Jayhawks rolled past the UNC Tar Heels for an appearance in the Sweet 16.
Still, Western Kentucky proved that the Jayhawks aren’t the Goliath of college basketball this season. That being said, the Jayhawks brought their A-game during the first half against Michigan.
Kansas scored an unreal 34 points in the paint after the first 20 minutes of play concluded. Michigan countered with just 14 points in the painted area.
The problem is Elijah Johnson is having foul problems today, so he could play three minutes the entire first half.
If you’re a gambler, you’d know going into tonight that the Wolverines are 22-12 in their last 34 games as the underdog. Not that it matters, but those are great odds for a team who was formerly AP No. 1.
Michigan played okay going into Half No. 2, but they haven’t led since it was 9-8 Wolverines nearly five minutes into the game.
Burke hasn’t scored yet, and if the Wolverines have any kind of chance, it’s up to him to get it done.
It certainly doesn’t help that Johnson wore his shooting shoes today. His three-pointer made it 68-54 with under 7 to go. On a side note, perhaps the scoreboard operator was a Michigan alumnus since CBS accidentally gave the 3 points to the Wolverines instead of the Jayhawks.
There aren’t any handicaps in college basketball, so the score is actually 68-54. The Wolverines tried their best to make it a single-digit deficit, but after a tip-in by Kevin Young, it’s back to an 11-point cushion for the Jayhawks.
The only good news for Michigan fans is their favorite basketball team is already in the bonus. Kansas struggled with fouls all night long, and because of it, any garbage blocking foul leads to the automatic 1-and-1 for any Michigan player.
Tim Hardaway Junior took advantage of the bonus situation, but a 10-point deficit this late in the contest wasn’t very reassuring to Beilein. The Wolverines simply wouldn’t quit though, and once Mitch McGary stole the ball on his team’s next defensive possession, he was rewarded with the basketball on the low block and delivered.
Kansas regrouped, with Jeff Withey’s slam dunk silencing the Wolverine crown.
But Kansas looked out of sync down the stretch. Sure, they led by 10 with under 2:45 to go, but after a lazy perimeter pass, Michigan’s Glen Robinson III cut the lead down to 8 once again.
The Jayhawks looked asleep at times as if the Wolverines would just let them win. Johnson took forever to get the ball past the timeline, with the close man-to-man defense giving Michigan the ball back due to the costly Jayhawks backcourt violation.
Burke then showed off his playmaking skills with a good-looking dime to McGary. Just like that, Michigan can tie the game with two three-pointers and two defensive stops.
Kansas head coach Bill Self saw enough and called timeout on his team’s next possession. The timeout definitely worked as Kansas got the drive they wanted with an open lane to the cup, although McGary seemed to get all-ball on the block attempt. Travis Releford knocked both of his free-throws to seemingly put Michigan away for good.
But as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” As if Burke wanted to put on a show for NBA scouts, Michigan’s best player knocked down a deep three to cut it down to 5. Burke has been rumored to be a lottery pick come June, and this legendary second-half performance by the former five-star recruit is nothing other than extraordinary.
However, college basketball has a much-larger shot clock than the NBA, so Kansas was still in the driver’s seat. As expected, Kansas ran the clock down. But Ben McLemore couldn’t get the runner to go into the hoop. And after the Jayhakws again couldn’t box out on a missed three, Robinson III picked up the loose ball and delivered with a tough reverse layup.
It still isn’t panic time for the Jayhawks since the Wolverines have to foul to stop the clock. Showing why they’re the No. 1 seed, Kansas knocked down both of their free-throw attempts to make it a two-possession game.
Self decided to sacrifice length and size for quickness, and Burke took advantage by getting the quick layup to extend the game.
Remember: All Kansas needs to do is hit 1 of their bonus free-throws to pretty much ice the game. Johnson is a perfect 3-for-3 at the line. But he somehow missed, and miraculously, the Wolverines have life. Great defense by the Jayhawks forced Burke into a shot at least five steps away from the 3-point line.
But this is Alfonso Clark Burke we’re talking about here. There’s a reason why NBA teams want to draft him, and even though a much taller man is guarding him in Young, Burke shot over the 6-foot-8 forward and nailed the 30-footer to tie the score.
Even with Burke stunning the Jayhawk faithful, Kansas still had plenty of time for the buzzer-beating game-winner. Naadir Thorpe got a decent look at the top of the key, but he couldn’t knock down the triple. As if the basketball gods are on Michigan’s side, Burke’s heroics kept his teammates alive for a shot at reaching the Elite Eight.
Kansas struck first with a nice-looking possession to begin OT. But Burke did it again, this time with a slightly easier trey to give his team their first lead since it was 9-8. After all, his first name is nicknamed Trey, so he must be good at knocking them down. He was great at it tonight, anyway.
Back and forth both teams went, with Burke giving his team the lead back at 81-to-80.
Burke gets a lot of the credit for tonight’s performance, and rightfully so, but don’t forget about McGary whose smooth touch off the glass gave Michigan a three-point lead. McGary is now 7-for-10 shooting in the second half.
The real story of the game is Kansas just throwing the game away with turnovers. Another bad perimeter pass was easily read by Robinson, and the third generation of Robinsons knocked down both attempts at the charity stripe to make it a two-possession lead.
Don’t count out the Jayhawks just yet. Johnson was very reliable at AT&T Stadium this evening as he drained the triple to put the pressure back on Michigan.
Deciding to run clock because of the 35-second shot clock, Michigan passed on open threes to wait until the last second to shoot. Burke drove into the paint, but this time around, Kansas was there with the necessary shot blockers.
McGary obtained the offensive board, but he couldn’t connect, allowing the Jayhawks one more chance at reaching the Elite Eight.
So here we go. Kansas blew two double-digit leads. Somehow, someway Michigan can win the game. Nevermind that Michigan is shooting only 57% from the free-throw line. Nevermind that Kansas has dominated on defense with 8 blocks to just one from Michigan. Oh, and Kansas is shooting better from both two and three-point land.
But all that matters is the scoreboard. So what will Bill Self draw up here? Will he go for the tie or the win?
Everybody from Kansas is shooting well tonight, except for Thorpe who’s under 20% from the field. Thorpe had a chance to win the game at the buzzer during regulation, but he just missed it.
Will Self trust Thorpe on this possession? A trip to the Elite Eight is on the line. Welcome to a moment in history.
Oh man. It looked like Johnson had a decent angle to the hoop. He instead kicked it out to Thorpe, who promptly missed.
Thorpe had a game to forget by finishing 1-of-8 from the field with a couple of turnovers.
But the real story of the game was the unstoppable duo of Burke and McGary, who combined for nearly 50 points. McGary completed the comeback with a 25-point, 14-rebound double-double.
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