From left, Michigan's Eso Akunne, Caris LeVert and Trey Burke get loose before Thursday night's game. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Auburn Hills — Trey Burke said he would make certain the younger Michigan Wolverines understand that focus is vital for their second-round NCAA Tournament game Thursday night.
After all, a year ago, the Wolverines were upset by Ohio in the second round.
Michigan, a No. 4 seed, is preparing to face No. 13 South Dakota State at The Palace in a 7:15 p.m. tip-off. The winner advances to Saturday's third round against the winner of VCU-Akron.
"No room for margin this late in the season," said U-M's Trey Burke, the Big Ten player of the year. "It's our job as captains to let everybody know, specifically the freshmen, that (this game) could be our last game if we don't come out and execute the way we know we can. So just come out with the amount of intensity that we're down from the beginning of the game, and I think that will take care of itself."
The Wolverines are 26-7. The Jackrabbits are 24-9 and are led by standout guard Nate Wolters.
The Burke-Wolters game within the game is expected to be a major storyline. Burke is averaging 19.2 points and 6.7 assists. Wolters, a national player of the year candidate, is averaging 22.7 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds.
This is Michigan's third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth overall under coach John Beilein.