by Tomas Lopez
It wasn't always pretty, but No. 4 Michigan Wolverines and Kansas State Wildcats managed to survive their semifinal contests and advance to Friday afternoon's NIT Season Tip-Off championship game. The Wolverines beat Pittsburgh 67-62 and Kansas State held off Delaware 66-63 in Wednesday's semifinal round at Madison Square Garden.
Michigan, which entered the semifinals shooting an NCAA-best 53.1 percent from 3-point range, won despite shooting 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
Kansas State is 5-0 for the third time in five years, but the Wildcats have shot less than 40 percent in its last two games. The Wildcats have never beaten Michigan in three meetings, including the 1964 Final Four.
Kansas State Wildcats (5-0): Thomas Gipson, Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling scored 12 points apiece against Delaware, which gave the Wildcats their first test of the young season. Kansas State won despite receiving little production from its senior trio of Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving, who combined for 48 minutes, 10 points and nine rebounds while going 5-for-20 from the field. McGruder, a preseason All-Big 12 selection, looks to bounce back after scoring eight points while shooting 4-for-14 from the field. Rodriguez averages 11.2 points to lead the balanced Kansas State offense.
Michigan Wolverines (4-0): It took awhile, but Michigan's big three of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III came up big in the final 11 minutes Wednesday. Burke and Hardaway have scored in double figures in all four games, and Burke's 30 assists are nearly half of Michigan's 61 on the season. Michigan dominated the boards against Pittsburgh while outrebounding the Panthers 37-26. Forward Jordan Morgan, a 6-8, 250-pound junior, provided a spark with a team-high seven rebounds. Freshman guard Nik Stauskas is averaging 12 points while making eight of his first 14 shots from 3-point range.
1. Burke, a 6-foot sophomore, needs 15 more assists to reach 200 in his career.
2. Kansas State was 0-5 all-time at Madison Square Garden before Wednesday.
3. Michigan freshman F Mitch McGary is averaging 6.5 rebounds off the bench.
NCAA Basketball Prediction: Michigan 77, Kansas State 70.
angel rodriguez - glenn robinson iii - jordan henriquez - jordan morgan - kansas state wildcats - martavious irving - michigan wolverines - mitch mcgary - nik stauskas - rodney mcgruder