After several weeks of play, out of the 68 teams that began March Madness there remains just two. As the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines take on the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals for the National Title.
It has been a long road for both teams, but there can only be one winner. The game will be held in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome at 9:23 ET on April 8th, 2013.
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Michigan: The Wolverines are rightfully headed to the National Title Game after their inspired play throughout the tournament. After early tournament routes of VCU and South Dakota State, Michigan gutted out an overtime win against Kansas in the Sweet 16. They cruised past the Florida Gators in the Elite 8 before making the Final Four for the first time since 1993.
The Wolverines cashed their ticket to the title game after defeating Syracuse in a Final Four matchup, 61-56. Trey Burke, the likely MVP of the tournament was unusually quiet and had his worst game of the postseason, hitting just 1 of 8 shots from the field and finishing with 7 points.
Michigan got a humongous from Mitch McGary. The freshman was dominant down low, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 boards. He also added six assists and two blocked shots. The bench also helped offset the poor shooting that both Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. exhibited. Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht scored eight points, and Albrecht added six.
Michigan led at the half by 11 points, and despite going cold for long stretches in the second half, they held on to win the game.
Louisville: The Cardinals have been one of basketball’s most dominant teams all year long and that has not changed in the postseason. No.1 Seed Louisville cruised in their first two games of the tournament, easily handling North Carolina AT&T and Colorado State. After beating upstart Oregon 77-66 in the Sweet 16, they knocked off powerhouse Duke in the Elite 8, in a game that was not close.
The win against the Blue Devils pitted Louisville in a Final Four matchup against the No. 9 seeded Wichita State Shockers. This game was the toughest test by far for the Cardinals. Wichita led by one point at half time and were ahead by 12 with 14 minutes left to play.
That is when Louisville’s defense clamped down and forced the Shockers into many turnovers in the last 15 minutes of the game. This sparked a 21-8 run by Louisville. The game was close in the final minute, but the Cardinals hung on to win 72-68. Russ Smith and Luke Hancock led the team is scoring, chipping in 21 and 20 points, respectively.
Our Pick: These two teams are a vast contrast in styles, both have which been tremendously successful throughout the tournament.
While Louisville prides themselves on pressure defense and the full court press. Michigan’s ability to defend has always been a question mark, especially down low. The Cardinals clearly outsize the Wolverines, but that is not necessarily a blue print for success as we’ve seen smaller squads take down more physical teams often in this year’s tourney.
It is a matchup of the best offensive team and the best defensive team. Louisville is ranked number one in defensive efficiency, and Michigan is ranked number one in offensive efficiency.
Offensively, Louisville will try to penetrate the paint with their guards as Michigan does not have a true shot blocker like the Cardinals have in Gorgui Dieng. McGary has been impressive, but he is not someone who will be swatting away opponents’ shots near the rim.
Michigan’s offense is run through Troy Burke, and he will clearly need to have a monster game if the Wolverines hope to win this one. Peyton Silva will match up with him in a battle of one of the best offensive guards versus one of the best perimeter defenders. As a team, Louisville forces more turnovers than any other team in the nation.
Many are predicting a Michigan win in this game partly because they have more NBA talent on their roster. While that is likely the case, Louisville’s constant pressure and size will be the difference. Pitino always has a solid game plan, and the Cardinals pressure is second to none. We would rather rely on solid defense and easy buckets in the paint, rather than spotty outside shooting. If Troy Burke has a poor game, it is highly likely Michigan loses this one. We’ll take defense over offense for the National Title.
We like the Louisville Cardinals -4 (-105) at TopBet.eu
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