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2013 NCAA National Championship Game: Michigan Wolverines Defense Has Sparked Tournament Run

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The Michigan Wolverines are in the NCAA National Championship game tonight because of one big reason, their defense. Don’t get me wrong, they have plenty of outstanding offensive weapons and can shoot the lights out but that isn’t the reason they’ll be playing the Louisville Cardinals for the right to be college basketball’s champions.

It’s actually funny because all throughout the tournament all we’ve heard about is every other team’s defense but Michigan’s. The Syracuse Orange’s 2-3 zone, VCU’s pressure defense, or any of the other Big Ten schools physical defense that keeps them in the game but rarely do people talk about how well the Wolverines play defense.

Michigan has won five games in the 2013 NCAA tournament and only once have they allowed more than 59 points, and that was to an explosive Kansas Jayhawks team in the sweet 16. The Wolverines held a VCU team that averaged 78 points a game to just 53 points, the South Dakota St. Jackrabbits average 73.9 but could only muster 56 against Michigan and the Wolverines held a very good Florida Gators team that averaged 71.9 points per game to only 59 points. Let’s also not forget the other night when Michigan’s defense held Syracuse to just just 56 points to advance to the title game.

Tonight as Michigan prepares to take on Louisville, we’re all probably going to hear about Louisville’s pressure defense and how Michigan can handle it? However, the Wolverines have only allowed one more point per game than the Cardinals and that’s despite playing higher quality competition. Don’t get me wrong Louisville has played very well to get to the National Championship game but Michigan’s road to the season’s final game has been much tougher.

So while you’re watching tonight’s game, try to remember there are two extremely good defensive teams on the court, not just one. If Michigan wins tonight, it’ll likely be because of their defense, not their offense.

you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi