NCAA Championship Game: #1 Louisville Vs. #4 Michigan
- CoachingRick Pitino has been here before, after making his 7th Final Four appearance, he's now in his third go-round in the title game. He's got plenty of experience on the big stage and he has the Cardinals playing high level basketball at the right time.John Beilein has now accomplished two personal firsts in this tournament. His first Final Four appearance and first shot at the title. Michigan has been tearing through the tournament looking like the team that was No. 1 earlier this season.
- OffenseThe Cardinals have the highest scoring offense in the tourney averaging 79 PPG. They've gotten scoring throughout the line-up, but one concern: Peyton Siva was 1-9 with seven points in the game against Wichita State.Michigan isn't far behind the Cardinals averaging 75.2 PPG. They've gotten a huge boost in the tournament from Mitch McGary who has averaged 16 PPG 11.6 RPG on 69.8% shooting. He has been a force inside and will put Gorgui Dieng to the test.
- DefenseLouisville is averaging 11.2 SPG and 4.2 BPG in the tournament. Their full court pressure style has bottled opponents in every game they've played. It really tires teams out late in games.Michigan has held opponents to an average of 61.8 PPG in the tournament. If you take out the 85 points they gave up to Kansas that number drops to 56 PPG. They've been downright stingy.
- Bench DepthLuke Hancock and Tim Henderson provided big 3's late against the Shockers and Montrezl Harrell continues to be a spark off the bench, but this team's depth took a hit when Kevin Ware went down with an injury.Chris Levert gave the Wolverines big minutes in the Final Four, and Joshua Morgan has been a presence defensively all season. Spike Albrecht may be one of the most underrated pieces of this team. He gives Trey Burke the chance to play off the ball and get a breather from the point guard duties.
This game is about as good as we can ask for in the national final. Michigan has seen a defense similar to Louisville's already when they played against VCU's patented chaos D in the Round of 32. But Rick Pitino is a master at making adjustments to force teams into uncomfortable positions. If Trey Burke and Michigan can protect the basketball though, they will win this game. Look for a game in the mid-70's with Michigan getting the win by 4. -Ryan Mayer, College Basketball Contributor