The Michigan Wolverines and Louisville Cardinals meet tonight at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the 2013 National Title. The game scheduled for a 9:23 PM (Eastern) start time and the game will be televised on CBS. Current Betting Odds, according to Sportsbook.ag, have Louisville listed as big favorite.
Over/ Under: 138
Analysis: The Wolverines have come a long way after finishing the regular season 1-9 ATS (5-5 SU) and then losing to Wisconsin in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, they have beaten their five opponents by an average score of 75 to 62, including three wins of 15+ points. With Saturday night's 61-56 win over Syracuse, the Wolverines are now 9-1 (SU and ATS) on a neutral court this season, outscoring these teams by 10.9 PPG. Michigan might be only a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but there isn't much the team doesn't excel in. In addition to their 75.2 PPG (25th in nation), 48.3% FG (7th in D-I) and 38.3% threes (20th in nation), the Wolverines have the fewest amount of turnovers in the country (9.4 TOPG). They also lead the nation in Ast/TO ratio (1.55) and rebound pretty well too with a +3.2 RPG margin. They will need to do all these things well to beat a Louisville team that thrives on forcing bad shots and creating turnovers with its incredible defense. Michigan's defense is solid (62.8 PPG, 42.3% FG, 32.1% threes allowed) and is able to stay out of foul trouble (12.7 fouls per game, 2nd-fewest in D-I), by preferring not to take many chances in trying to force turnovers, as evidenced by a mere 2.8 BPG and 6.2 SPG, which rank 244th and 230th in the nation, respectively. The Wolverines' backcourt of sophomore PG Trey Burke (18.5 PPG) and junior SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG) has carried this team all season, but the duo shot a combined 5-of-24 from the floor (4-of-14 threes) against Syracuse. Burke can also score in bunches, averaging 13.8 PPG in the NCAA Tournament with three games of 15+ points. Hardaway has shot a high percentage from behind the arc this season (38%), but is just 5-of-18 (28%) from long range and 11-for-40 (28%) on all FG attempts over the past three games. Michigan has become much more than a two-man team recently. Six-foot-10 freshman PF Mitch McGary (7.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG) has been unbelievable in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 16.0 PPG on 70% FG with 11.6 RPG and 2.2 SPG. He also had a career-best six assists to go along with 10 points, 12 boards and two blocks in Saturday's win. Michigan is in the National Championship for the first time since the Fab Five made its second trip in 1993 and is the youngest team in the field of 68, with Robinson III, McGary and Stauskas all starting as freshman.
Louisville is red-hot, but had a major scare on Saturday when it trailed by 12 points in the second half to Wichita State, a game it eventually won 72-68. The Cardinals have now won 15 straight games (11-4 ATS) by holding all 15 opponents to under 70 points, including limiting 10 of those opponents below 60 points. Louisville is also 19-1 SU (17-2-1 ATS) in their past 20 games in the month of March over the past two seasons, and 11-1 SU (8-4 ATS) on a neutral court this season, outscoring its opponents by 15.4 PPG. Louisville ranks fourth in the nation in scoring margin (+15.9 PPG) with 74.3 PPG of offense (32nd in nation) and 58.3 PPG allowed on defense (17th in D-I). The Cards outshoot opponents 45.6% FG to 39.2% FG (27th in nation), but they do not rely on the three-point shot like most Rick Pitino-coached teams do. Louisville makes just 5.7 threes per game (219th in D-I) on a subpar 32.9% clip (214th in nation). This team thrives on full-court pressure, using 10.8 steals per game (2nd in D-I) as part of 18.4 forced turnovers (also 2nd-most in nation) to get plenty of easy baskets. This defense has forced 16.4 TOPG in the NCAA's, which is a big reason why the team is scoring a hefty 79.0 PPG on 53.2% FG in the Big Dance. Nobody has been scoring quite like SG Russ Smith (18.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG), who is averaging 25.0 PPG on 50% FG in the NCAA Tournament. He's gotten a ton of points by driving to the hoop and drawing fouls, but after starting the tourney 32-for-40 (80%) from the line, he made just 5-of-12 free throws (42%) on Saturday. Senior PG Peyton Siva (9.8 PPG, 5.7 APG, 2.2 SPG) was outstanding in the Elite Eight against Duke when he scored 16 points (6-of-10 FG) with four assists and zero turnovers in 33 minutes, but he was terrible on Saturday, making just 1-of-9 shots (0-for-5 threes) for seven points, three assists and two turnovers. Luckily for Siva, junior swingman Luke Hancock (7.7 PPG) was the best player on the court in Saturday's win. He scored 20 points on 6-of-9 FG (3-of-5 threes) while adding four rebounds and two steals. C Gorgui Dieng (9.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.5 BPG) was averaging 11.0 PPG on 20-of-24 FG (83%), 7.5 RPG and 2.5 BPG in the first four games of the NCAA Tournament, but did very little in 30 foul-plagued minutes with zero points (0-for-1 FG), six rebounds and two blocks in 30 minutes. His only problem has been foul shooting, where he's made just 2-of-10 FT in the past two games.
Pick: I like the Over in this one. Michigan has looked to speed the game up all tournament long and they have been successful at it. Michigan has averaged 5.2 ppg in the tourney and they have put up 74 ppg in their neutral site games, which is a big reason why the over is 12-5-1 in their last 18 neutral site games. Louisville comes in at 11-0 to the Over in their last 11 neutral site games and they have averaged 75 ppg in those games, while also averaging 79.2 ppg in the tourney. Both teams have shot very well in the tourney and both should be able to crack these tough defenses. Both teams will look to push tempo and we should also get a foul fest at the end. I look for around 145 points in this one.
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