I had like Michigan most of the year to win the Finals this year, but then they hit a rough spot at the end of the regular season. I started to lose hope and I though for sure that the Wisconsin Badgers would end up being the toughest team to come out of the Big 10. The Badgers had beaten all of the top Big 10 teams, but they got swept aside by the annoying Ole Miss team.
Let’s say that I told you that Michigan point guard Trey Burke’s stats against Syracuse’s apparently impenetrable 2-3 zone in Saturday night’s Final Four game was going to be 1-of-8 shooting; seven points, his second-lowest scoring of the season; four assists, one more than his season low, you would have looked at me and said there’s no way Michigan would be playing in Monday’s national title game against Louisville.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t offense,” Burke said. “A lot of us didn’t have good shooting nights. But it was defense that allowed us to advance.”
Michigan has not been known as a team for its defense, but it was surprisingly their defensive display that won this game for the team ranked first in the nation in offensive efficiency. Its sloppy, ugly, free-throw-missing, to fast moving effort was of the grind-it-out Big Ten style of play that this exciting offensive team has used all year.
This’ll be a very interesting game as the best offense in the country (Michigan) faces the best defense in the country (Louisville) in what looks to be a stellar strength-on-strength title game on Monday.
“We know Trey is our leader,” Hardaway said. “He’s not going to have a game like he’s always been the whole season. That’s when our team steps up; just tries to pick him up.”
“It’s kind of surreal,” Burke said. “Growing up as a kid, watching March Madness, you always wanted to see yourself playing in the Final Four, playing in the national championship.”
Louisville is strong but perhaps Michigan’s game will act like a hustle as Louisville goes in thinking the Wolverines are weak and off their rhythm. I hope not as I look forward to a great game that may turn ugly fast. My prediction, as much as I love Michigan and Burke I have to go with my previous pick this year. Louisville will win this game 79-76.