Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 2/23/12
The Detroit News College basketball : MICHIGAN NOTEBOOK Evanston, Ill. - With Tuesday's overtime win against Northwestern, Michigan has clinched a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament and can focus on finishing the season with momentum and improving its seeding in the NCAA Tournament. And challenging for the regular-season conference title. Although U-M (21-7, 11-4 Big Ten) trails first-place Michigan State by a game, the Wolverines still can get a share of the title with a strong finish in their last three games. MSU would need to lose at least two of its final three games in order for U-M to have a shot at the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, though. The Spartans own the tiebreaker over Michigan because they already have beaten Ohio State - and can get a season sweep in the regular-season finale - and also has two wins against Wisconsin. Michigan hosts Purdue on Saturday in the home finale and has games at Illinois (March 1) and Penn State (March 4) to complete the regular season. The Wolverines are entering the final stretch with a four-game win streak and their highest ranking (No. 11) since they were eighth in 1997. U-M has beaten each of the final three opponents this season. Trey's the leader Freshman Trey Burke, who had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in the Northwestern game, has surpassed Tim Hardaway Jr. as the team's leading scorer. Hardaway had 14 points Tuesday and now has 400 points in the season, one point behind Burke. Burke also has 134 assists and is six away from the all-time Michigan freshman record, set by Gary Grant during the 1984-85 season. With all his achievements, Burke is garnering attention as the potential Big Ten freshman of the year.Burke also shoots 35 percent on 3-pointers and is second on the team in blocks. He has begun to take on some of the leadership qualities that will be left when seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass are gone next season. After he took a bad desperation 3-pointer at the end of regulation, he realized his error and told Novak that he would make up for it in overtime. "I didn't know Zack was to the right of me wide open. I told him my fault and that I'd get it back for him in overtime," Burke said, "(I told him) right after I took the bad shot." Burke made the opening 3-pointer of the extra period - the first of three straight - and Michigan put the game away with free throws. Finale set The time for Michigan's regular-season finale at Penn State on March 4 has been set for 1 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. rod.beard@detnews.com twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard
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