NCAA Basketball Louisville CardinalsMarch MadnessMichigan Wolverines

2013 NCAA Tournament: 5 Reasons Why Louisville Should Beat Michigan

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How Can Louisville Beat Michigan?

Source: Robert Deutsch- USA Today Sports

The No. 4 seed Michigan Wolverines and overall No. 1 seed Louisville Cardinals will battle each other tonight for the national championship. Both teams had dangerously close games in the semifinals, so they’re both ready to prove their talent.

Michigan has one of the best offenses in the nation and Louisville has the top defense, so it should be an interesting game. They are two completely opposite programs, so it’s going to be an amusing battle to the end. There’s a good probability that it will be a high-scoring game because both have their unique ways of scoring.

The Wolverines have had wins against ranked teams all season, but they also have a pathetic loss to the 10-21 Penn State Nittany Lions. The Cardinals didn’t really have any “bad” losses, on the other hand. If Michigan isn’t on their top game, they’re going to find themselves down to Louisville early.

Louisville also has an edge-up on Michigan because they made it into the final four last year as well. The Cardinals' players are more used to the atmosphere and have more motivation to prove their talent. The Wolverines are a pretty young team so they will definitely be one to watch in the upcoming years.

Head coach Rick Pitino also has a reason to push his players as hard as possible. If Louisville wins, he will become the first NCAA men’s coach to win national championships with two different schools. Pitino previously won a national championship while coaching the Kentucky Wildcats back in 1996.

So what exactly does Louisville need to do in order to confidently beat Michigan? Take a look at the next few slides to find out!

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Full-Court Press the Entire 40 Minutes

Source: Richard Mackson- USA Today Sports

One of Louisville’s key tactics is keeping a full-court press for the entire 40 minutes. The only team that forced more turnovers this season was the VCU squad, so the Cardinals clearly know how to put the pressure on their opponents. It is going to be important for them to keep the pressure on the whole game.

They normally don’t go full-throttle the entire game, but it’s definitely important for them to press hard on the Wolverines from the start. Michigan loves to make fast breaks so Louisville’s defense definitely has to be on their best game.

When Syracuse switched up the press late in the semifinal game, Michigan was shaky and was barely able to handle the pressure. This proved that Michigan really does struggle to score if they are unable to get the fast breaks.

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Contain Trey Burke

Source: Robert Deutsch- USA Today Sports

This season, Burke has averaged 18.8 points and 6.8 assists a game to prove that he is a key player for the Wolverines. He’s even been named the AP College Basketball Player of the Year. However, he struggled to get a shot off against Syracuse in the semifinals and only scored seven points. He couldn’t find a way to cope with Syracuse’s zone and ended up 1-for-8 from the field.

One key for Louisville’s defense is to contain Burke and force the other guards to handle the ball. He is by far one of the best ball-handlers in the league, so the best option for Louisville is to keep it away from him.

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Force Michigan to Shoot Inside the Arc

Source: Daniel Shirey- USA Today Sports

Louisville’s defense is the best in the nation and they definitely need to keep pace with Michigan’s quick offense. Michigan’s offense tends to go on hot streaks from the 3-point line when they are losing. If they can stop them from going deep, then Michigan will struggle in the lane.

Louisville has held their opponents to 31.5 percent from the 3-point line this season, so they definitely have the ability stop Michigan. They’re a team that is consistent with jump shots but not always in the lane. When Michigan attacks the lane quickly, they tend to turnover the ball.

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Attack the Lane

Source: Robert Deutsch- USA Today Sports

Due to Michigan’s lack of size, Louisville definitely has an advantage down low. The Cardinals are average from the 3-point line, hitting 32.9 percent this year, but they succeed in the front court due to their ability to attack and penetrate the lane.

They can easily match up to Michigan’s quickness down low and get the ball to the hoop or at least get fouled. Louisville has averaged 1.2 points per possession during the tournament due to their ability to consistently attack the lane. Michigan is not far behind them, averaging 1.13, but Michigan’s defense can be shaky in the lane.

If Louisville can focus on driving the lane rather than shooting 4-pointers, Michigan’s defense will eventually wear down. The Cardinals struggled from the field against Wichita State in the semifinals so they need to gain back their efficiency and get as close to the rim as possible during the final game.

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Get Mitch McGary in Foul Trouble

Source: Richard Mackson- USA Today Sports

Neither of these teams are very big,so getting Mitch McGary in foul trouble could be a key factor. Before the tournament, he was only averaging 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. McGary surprisingly turned into a breakout star in NCAA tournament and has averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in his last five games.

If he is benched early, the Wolverines would definitely struggle. Michigan doesn’t have anyone else skilled enough to successfully match up with Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng. Glenn Robinson III would be McGary’s backup, but he still stands four inches shorter than Dieng.

The Wolverines would miss his siz, as well as his ability to score. He hasn’t fouled out all season, so it would be interesting to see how the Wolverines would cope without him on the floor.