For the first time in NCAAB National Tournament history a pair of #4 seeds will do battle. Ironically, the game will be played in the Final Four with the winner propelling themselves to the Championship game. The Syracuse Orange and the Michigan Wolverines both came into the 2012 season as top 10 ranked teams, however they both went through a bit of a lull midway through the year.
Trey Burke has been the big point of focus in this game as the Wolverines point guard was named the AP Player of the year on Thursday. Burke is also finalist for the Wooden Award which is college basketball version of the MVP and rightfully so. Michigan is shooting an uncanny 49% from the field so far in the tournament, but the Syracuse 2-3 zone is expected to make that percentage decrease.
Jim Boeheim has been the mastermind behind a few great defenses including the 2003 squad that won the Championship, but the Hall of Fame coach insists that this 2012-2013 team is in fact the best defense that the Orange have ever had. Boeheim’s club appeared to hit their stride at the right time as they are holding teams to a lowly 28.2% shooting percentage from behind the three point line. Something will have to give in this matchup as the Wolverines have shot 40% from three-point land since the tournament began.
PF Mitch McGary has been a pleasant surprise for the Wolverines, but I don’t see him having much success against a zone defense that suffocates even the best big men. Look for Glen Robinson III to make an impact in this one as he has the ability to attack the middle of the paint and exploit that stifling defensive unit. This will be one of the best games of the tournament and look for Michael Carter-Williams to be the difference as a 6-foot-6 point guard who is one of the most versatile players in the nation and is a big reason the Syracuse defense is so potent.
If Michigan can solve the Orange’s defense than John Beilein will be taking his program to the National Championship game for the first time since 1993.