By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
Tonight, the University of Michigan Wolverines basketball team will take on the Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship game. Who will come out on top? It’s the number one overall seed against the one-time number one seed.
Louisville comes into the game tonight with a passion, and a will to win behind Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury. Michigan comes into the game tonight behind a Chuck Norris-like showing from freshman phenom Mitch McGary.
It’s going to be a Goliath vs. Goliath battle in Atlanta. So who has the edge in tonight’s game?
Mitch McGary. Two words, one name. You don’t need to describe the epic play that McGary has showed us throughout the tournament. You just have to watch. If Michigan plans on winning tonight, they need another strong showing from McGary, not only scoring wise, but defensively rebounding as well.
Fellow freshman, Glenn Robinson III has showed signs of greatness, and was terrific against Syracuse. He contributed 10 points and was 5-7 from the field. GRIII needs to show Louisville his speed tonight. A few breakaway dunks could be in the future from both stars mentioned above.
Finally, three-point magician, Nik Stauskas will really need to find his game tonight. He was really off against the Orange, shooting 0-5 from the floor and 0-4 from beyond the arc. Somehow, the Wolverines managed to win without his three’s. If he can come up with some huge three pointers, the Wolverines will have more than a good shot to win.
Center Gorgui Dieng will need to contribute heavily if the Cardinals plan on doing anything tonight against Michigan. Dieng had no points against the win over the Shockers. Overall, Dieng has a 9.8 point per game average, along with 9.4 rebounds per game. He will match up against McGary.
Chane Behanan only had 10 points against Wichita State, and he will need to play a little physical on GRIII, who has a 40-pound edge over Robinson. Behanan is expected to help run the floor along with Dieng for the Cardinals.
Finally, guard-forward Wayne Blackshear will look to try and stop Stauskas’ three-pointers. He had no points against Wichita State in only nine minutes of play. If Stauskas can rattle Blackshear, expect the Wolverines to be scoring a lot.
Here is where the game will probably be won. Defense is always key, and Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are running the floor for the Wolverines. Let’s see how well they do against the Louisville guards.
Burke wasn’t a factor, at least point-wise against Syracuse, yet he still helped out with rebounds and dishing to players for points. It’s expected that Burke will find his Kansas game form tonight against the Cardinals.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has the ability to put up a lot of points. That says a lot considering his counterpart. If Hardaway can get into a groove early, points will come easily. If he doesn’t he could have an off game. Luckily, that wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen.
Star guard Russ Smith will give the Wolverines a lot of problems tonight. He had 21 points against the Shockers. He averages 18.9 points per game. If Burke can play some heavy defense on Smith, the Cardinals won’t have a shot.
Peyton Siva can also be somewhat explosive at times, but didn’t show it against the Shockers. He only had seven points in 34 minutes on the floor. He really didn’t do much and against Hardaway Jr. probably won’t do much again.
Michigan has a young bench, but in small stars, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert are capable of having short bursts of points as we saw against the Orange. The same can be said about Louisville despite not having Ware. Luke Hancock came out of nowhere and scored 20 points over Wichita State helping the Cardinals come out on top.
Prediction: Michigan 74 Louisville 68