New York, NY (Sports Network) - The NIT Season Tip-Off championship is up for
grabs in Madison Square Garden on Friday, as the fourth-ranked Michigan
Wolverines square off with the Kansas State Wildcats.
John Beilein's Wolverines opened the 2012-13 season with a great deal of
optimism. Michigan has done little to squelch that, as the team has started
off the season 4-0. The Wolverines opened the year with three straight games
at home, routing the likes of Slippery Rock (100-62), IUPUI (91-54) and
Cleveland State (77-47). Things weren't as easy in Wednesday's semifinal
action of this event, as the Wolverines slipped past Pittsburgh, 67-62.
Bruce Weber's first season in Manhattan couldn't have started any better, as
the Wildcats have opened the season with five straight victories. Following a
similar path, Kansas State opened the year with four straight lopsided wins at
home over North Dakota (85-52), Lamar (79-55), Alabama-Huntsville (87-26) and
North Florida (74-55). Things got tougher in the Big Apple on Wednesday, but
the Wildcats were able to advance to the title game with a 66-63 win over
These two teams are meeting for the fourth time and all four meetings have
taken place in tournament play. Michigan holds a 2-1 series advantage.
Will Spradling took care of business down the stretch, draining four free-
throws to secure the three-point win over Delaware and propel the Wildcats
into the championship game. The junior guard finished the game with 12 points,
as did Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez.
It certainly wasn't the best offensive performance by Kansas State this
season, as the team comes into this game averaging a strong 78.2 ppg. Where
the team has really had success was on the glass, grabbing 47.2 caroms per
game and holding a +15.4 rebounding advantage. Despite averaging just under 80
points per game, there aren't any prolific scorers on the roster. Rodriguez
and Rodney McGruder are the only players with a double-digit scoring averages
at this time, coming in at 11.2 and 10.0 points per game, respectively.
The Wolverines trailed at the half against Pittsburgh, falling victim to the
Panthers' strong shooting in the first half (.519). Michigan tightened up the
defense after the break though and made timely shots en route to the victory.
Trey Burke played a big role in the win, pacing the team with 17 points, while
doling out six assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. was right behind with 16 points,
while Nik Stauskas came off the bench to tally 15.
The Wolverines have excelled at both ends of the court through five games,
averaging 83.8 ppg, while limiting the opposition to just 56.2. Michigan has
shot the ball well from all over the court, converting 53.9 percent from the
floor overall, including a scorching 45.7 percent from 3-point range. The
scoring pool is deep with four players currently averaging double figures, led
by Burke's 18.0 ppg. Hardaway is a close second at 17.0 ppg, followed by Glenn
Robinson III's 13.3 ppg. Stauskas has been a key contributor off the bench
with 12.0 ppg.
The Sports Network