By: Mark Chalifoux
The Michigan Wolverines are the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in more than two decades, and one of the biggest reasons why is point guard Trey Burke. He flirted with the NBA draft at the end of the 2011-2012 season but decided to return for his sophomore campaign to bring Michigan a championship, and already has the Wolverines back on top of the college basketball world.
There is no Fab Five this time, but Michigan is stacked with talent and no one has made a bigger leap in his game than Burke, now widely considered one of the top point guards in the country. He leads a Michigan offense that is the most efficient in the country and has exhibited athleticism and a jump shot that has NBA scouts salivating.
Burke leads a talented Michigan team in points (17.9 per game) and assists (7.1 per game) as the Wolverines have raced out to a 19-1 record. Staying on top will prove to be difficult for the Wolverines, as it has for most top-ranked teams this season, but Michigan will be an absolute force in the tournament.
Burke has the ability to take games over (see the West Virginia game, when he scored a season high 27 points and missed only four shots) but he doesn’t have to because this Michigan team is stocked with weapons. Burke is at his best when he’s scoring, but also getting his teammates involved just as much. His assist-to-turnover ratio is one of the best in the country and his draft stock is consistently rising.
He’s projected as a mid-first round pick now, but expect to see that climb as the season progresses and he gets more consideration for Player of the Year honors. The only knock on his game scouts have is his defense and perhaps his ability to finish around the rim, both of which are really just knocks on his size (he’s a smaller point guard for the pro level at only 6-feet tall).
Burke has followed a good freshman year with a stellar sophomore season so far, and if this progression continues, expect to see the Wolverines making much more noise in March and Burke working his way into the 2013 NBA lottery.
Michigan v. West Virginia highlights
Mark Chalifoux is a college basketball contributor for CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @markchalifoux on Twitter.