Title game preview: Louisville vs. Michigan
Monday's title game is set, with Louisville to meet Michigan to decide the national championship.
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After two close semifinals on Saturday night, that’s exactly the matchup that we're getting Monday night.
Louisville came back to beat Wichita State in the first semifinal, using surprising bench performances from Luke Hancock and Tim Henderson to get the win. The Cardinals will be the favorite on Monday night, as they have won 15 games in a row -- with only three coming by single digits.
Michigan figured out Syracuse’s 2-3 zone for most of Saturday’s game, although some bad decisions and turnovers down the stretch made it a one-possession game in the final minute. However, the Wolverines were able to overcome bad performances from most of their stars in order to get the win.
On Monday, the key is obviously going to be Trey Burke against the Louisville pressure. The Wolverines handled VCU’s pressure extremely well in the Round of 32, but Louisville is a different animal. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva will attempt to disrupt Burke at the point of attack, but they can also drop back and play effective half-court defense. Burke needs to take care of the ball.
On the other side, look at the battle on the boards. Michigan crushed Syracuse on the glass in the first half, with Mitch McGary dominating the offensive boards. Louisville isn’t great on the defensive glass, either, and Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan will need to play better than they did Saturday night. If McGary can set the tone early -- like he did on Saturday -- Louisville will have its hands full.
It will be interesting to see if the stars show up on Monday. Burke, Tim Hardaway and Nik Stauskas all struggled against Syracuse, while Siva didn’t get going until late, and Wayne Blackshear, Behanan and Dieng didn’t do much, either.
I have a feeling Monday night won’t be a letdown. After a roller coaster of a season, we have the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense. Fitting.
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