Michigan's Trey Burke: 'We definitely don't care what people think;' says team just wants to win
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan opens its third full week of the season ranked No. 4 in America, even if it hasn't truly been challenged yet.
It's also expected to head to New York's Madison Square Garden and leave with a NIT Season Tip-Off trophy as the tournament favorite. Anything less than that would be perceived as a disappointment.
The Wolverines step into New York's bright lights Wednesday against Pittsburgh (9:30 p.m., ESPN2) with their highest ranking in 16 years and all the external expectations and pressure that goes with it.
Are they concerned? Not so much.
"We definitely don't care what people think," Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke said. "We know what we need to do in order to win, it's just a matter of executing.
"We know we have a lot of fans that want to see us do good, and a lot of fans that don't want to see us do good -- but we know we can't worry about that, we have to play our game."
Michigan (3-0) will be the odds-on favorite to win one of the more prestigious holiday exempt tournaments in the country, and will be expected to do it on a national stage.
Playing favorite and performing as the hunted isn't something John Beilein's teams have been known for during his lengthy career, but that's exactly the situation they find themselves in right now.
But don't tell them that.
"I don't know about (being a favorite)," Beilein said. "We expect to go in there and play really hard, that's all we're talking about.
"I don't know about (being a favorite), that'll probably never come out of my mouth."
When Michigan stepped onto its big national stage last season at the Maui Invitational, the Wolverines turned a few heads by thrashing highly-ranked Memphis and giving eventual tournament champion Duke all it could handle in the semifinals.
This year, though, no one will be surprised if Michigan beats Pittsburgh, Kansas State or Delaware.
They'll only be surprised if the Wolverines lose. But Michigan can't worry about that, it's got games to win.
Because that's what it expects from itself.
"We're trying to win every game," Beilein said. "We're trying to win every game."