Sunday, April 7, 2013

Michigan vs. Louisville National Championship Game Breakdown & Prediction

No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time: 9:20PM ET
Venue: Georgia Dome
Records: Michigan 31-7; Louisville 34-5
Michigan stat leaders: Points – Trey Burke (18.5 ppg); Rebounds – Mitch McGary (6.3 rpg); Assists – Burke (6.8 apg); Steals – Burke (1.6 spg).
Louisville stat leaders: Points – Russ Smith (18.9 ppg); Rebounds – Gorgui Dieng (9.4 rpg); Assists – Peyton Siva (5.7 apg); Steals – Siva (2.2 spg).
Current Streaks: Michigan W5, Louisville W15
Point Spread: Louisville -4
Prediction: Well, it all comes down to this. On paper, this should be an outstanding game. Both teams like to push the pace on offense and get in transition. Louisville has an aggressive defense, but could be exposed by a team like Michigan that handles the ball well. Michigan’s defense will have its hands full, but the Wolverines should be able to pose some problems for Louisville’s top scorer, Russ Smith. Smith stands just 6-1, which means 6-6 Tim Hardaway Jr. should be able to contest his shots. Smith has scored at least 21 points in all five tournament games. If Michigan can slow him down, it severely hurts Louisville’s chances to win. The Louisville defense has the luxury of having 6-11 center Gorgui Dieng patrolling the paint. Similar to Kansas’ Jeff Withey, Dieng has racked up a lot of blocks this season and he alters a lot of shots with his length. Michigan will have a hard time scoring with dribble penetration when Dieng is on the floor, but that could also setup Mitch McGary to get some easy points if Trey Burke can draw Dieng away from him. Michigan is fully capable of winning this game, but the Wolverines will need a solid 40 minutes to do so. Michigan can’t struggle down the stretch like it did against Syracuse. Louisville will do a better job of capitalizing on Michigan’s mistakes. The Cardinals have also faced plenty of deficits toward the end of the season and still rallied to win. No matter what Michigan does on Monday, Louisville won’t give up. The Cardinals have the better coach in Rick Pitino (in my opinion) and I think that will play a big role in this game. Though Michigan is playing a high level, I picked Louisville to win it all when the field was announced, so I am not backing away from that pick now. Louisville 72, Michigan 69

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