2013 NCAA Championship: Michigan Wolverines vs. Louisville Cardinals: Team Inspiration meets The New Power Generation

(Washington Post)

Michigan coach John Beilein is looking for his first title. Rick Pitino is looking for his second with as many teams.

The Louisville Cardinals have reached the National Championship Game with grit and a suffocating defense — which has choked the life out of opposing back courts. The pressure of guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith has set the tone for The ‘Ville’s run to the championship game. The added incentive to go all out for injured teammate Kevin Ware has raised the stakes for Rick Pitino’s crew.

The Michigan Wolverines finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference this season. An unlikely replacement for heavily favored conference foe Indiana. The Maize and Blue’s unexpected five-game winning streak has landed them in the title game for the first time in twenty years.

Who has their “One Shining Moment” tonight?

The task of each team is simple. If Louisville is able to get into the shirts of Michigan’s shooters, it should be an easy time for the Cardinals. Gorgui Deing’s defensive presence in the paint is essential to the Cardinals controlling the game. Deing is also averaging 10 rebounds per game. Luke Hancock was a pleasant surprise in the national semifinal against Wichita State. Hancock’s father — who is suffering from terminal cancer watched him play live Saturday night. Pitino is coaching a resilient group of young men — who are on the cusp of completing something very special.

The only thing more impressive than the tournament run of the Wolverines is the basketball lineage of this young group. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III are second-generation ballers and Jon Horford is the brother of Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford. Head coach John Beilein reminds you of Steve Fisher when he coached the Fab Five, there was so much talent all he needed to do was steer them in the right direction. Speaking of leaders, point guard Trey Burke is as tough as they come. If Burke is able to run and avoid turnovers, the Wolverines will be in good shape. Beware of sniper Nik Stauskas.

The x-factor is Michigan freshman Mitch McGary. Some have called the 6’10” forward the best player in the tournament. McGary has given the Wolverines an added boost in the paint. McGary can run the floor, pass out of the post and isn’t afraid to go hard to the basket. If this were Syracuse, I would lean toward Louisville. I believe Michigan handled the Orange zone well with their outside shooting. If Burke can withstand the pressure and get into the open floor Hardaway, Horford, McGary and Robinson are more than capable of filling the lane.

Prediction: Michigan 73 – Louisville 69

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