(1) Louisville vs. (4) Michigan
9:23 p.m., CBS
Louisville will play Michigan Monday night for the national championship. Louisville, the number one overall seed in the tournament impressed in regional play making it to Atlanta, and needed a gritty performance (and the possession arrow) against Wichita State to advance to the championship game.
Michigan, the 4-seed out of the South region has knocked off the likes of VCU, Kansas, Florida and Syracuse in making its run to the title game, riding its freshmen to Atlanta.
Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary gobbled up ten offensive rebounds against Syracuse, keeping key possessions alive and never allowing the Orange to get ahead in its Final Four matchup.
Point guard Trey Burke scored just seven points in an off-night shooting for the player of the year, while junior Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 13 points for the Wolverines.
Syracuse got just two points from point guard Michael Carter-Williams and five (in the final minute) from swingman James Southerland, in what was a horrendous night for the duo. The score was close at the end but the game was never really in doubt as Michigan outplayed the Orange from start to finish.
Run big man run
McGary out-hustles everyone on the court, and that can make any center successful. The emergence of McGary is the story for the Wolverines. He has really come on for John Beilein, averaging a double-double in tournament play and solidifying the center position for Michigan. He has outplayed every big man he's faced, though may have his toughest test in 6-foot-11 Senegal native Gorgui Dieng. If McGary can again win the battle down low, Michigan may be cutting down the nets in Atlanta.
Win for Ware
By now, we've all heard (and unfortunately seen) the gruesome injury to Louisville guard Kevin Ware. The sophomore has won the hearts of onlookers and has become the kid America is rooting for.
The Ware injury propelled the Cardinals to a blowout win over Duke and the `Cards needed a second-half rally to get past Wichita State.
Backcourt running mates Russ Smith and Peyton Siva can't wait until the second half to turn it up against Michigan like it did in its game against the Shockers. Coming back from 12 down won't be as easy against the Wolverines.
For Louisville, this team goes as junior guard Russ Smith goes. He will be key for Rick Pitino's club. At times during the season he has disappeared, though that seems like ancient history compared to the tournament Smith has had - averaging 25 points.
Louisville will need big games from forwards Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan, while Luke Hancock (20 points against Wichita State) must knock down shots from three-point range for the Cardinals Monday night.
Tim Hardaway Jr. will again be the most talented player on the court. If Burke goes quiet as he did against Syracuse, Hardaway will have to step up. Burke needs to come out early and look for his shot. The guy can shoot from anywhere on the court.
Freshman Nik Stauskas had an 0-for against Michigan after putting up 22 points against Florida. The talented freshman will need to give them more against Louisville.
Burke, Hardaway, McGary, Stauskas and Robinson are too talented. The Fab Five 2.0 - Michigan 75 Louisville 73