In last season’s NCAA Tournament, the Michigan Wolverines already boasted one of the more talented rosters in college basketball, but there was still a spark that was needed to push them over the top.
While the Wolverines may not exactly have that type of force on their bench this season, there is one player in particular that comes to mind when thinking of someone who could have a huge impact on this tournament, and that is freshman wing player Zak Irvin.
A high school teammate of Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Irvin has been a role player for Michigan this season, but could have a Harris-like contribution to this team down the road. Obviously, his skill set is way different from what the Wolverines had in McGary, but in terms of a guy that can come out of nowhere and help this team make a deep run, he would be a candidate to do so.
Irvin has been a catch-and-shoot guy throughout the year, but he is by no means one-dimensional. Coming out of high school, he was a player that not only was one of the elite scorers in the nation, but he also was a guy who could fill up a stat sheet on both ends of the floor.
With the Wolverines this year, Irvin has been asked to be their primary scoring punch off of the bench. He has scored 10 points or more in nine games this season, scoring as many as 24 in a game against Coppin State.
Over a potential six game stretch, it’s possible that guys like Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III won’t shoot the lights out at times, and that slack will need to be picked up elsewhere. Irvin has the potential to do this, along with fellow freshman Derrick Walton, Jr.
Both will need to play a big role in the success of the Wolverines this postseason, but Irvin is a definite candidate to be a guy that emerges from role player minutes to be this year’s NCAA Tournament spark plug.