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Wolverines battle Orange

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Final Four Betting: Michigan vs. Syracuse

Michigan -2; Total set at 131.5

The winner of this game will get the winner of the Wichita State/Louisville game earlier and for both of these storied programs, another shot at a national title would be tremendous. Michigan must be able to solve Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense if they want to get back there though and although they've had a week to prepare for it, we saw another Big 10 team (Indiana) in the same spot before the Sweet 16 and fail miserably against it.

Michigan is built a bit differently than the Hoosiers though and has much better guards in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. who can penetrate and kick almost at will. Burke was named the John Wooden Award winner for the most outstanding player in all of college basketball so already Michigan has an inherit advantage over the Orange in having the best player on the floor.

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Florida was so concerned with Burke's ability to penetrate and create easy buckets inside for himself or the Michigan big men that they decided to use a zone defense against the Wolverines from the start; and the Gators couldn't have been more wrong. Michigan started out with a 13-0 run thanks to tremendous outside shooting against Florida's zone and was up 41-17 with a little over four minutes left to go in the half. The Gators were so preoccupied with Burke that the rest of Michigan's shooters simply took advantage of all their open looks and shot over the zone. After that 1st half the game was decided and Michigan is hoping for another strong performance from their shooters like Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III against Syracuse.

Syracuse's defense has been the story of the tournament so far, holding two of their four opponents to under 40 points as no team has scored more than 60 against them. Jim Boeheim's zone and all its wrinkles have baffled opponents and they will aim to do the same against the Wolverines. Michigan has scored at least 71 points in all their tournament games so far and holding them below 60 would be quite an accomplish for the 'Cuse and they would deserve their trip to the Final.

But I don't think it will happen because of all the outside shooters on Michigan. They have shot better than 46% from the field in every one of their tournament games so far and put up about 20 three-pointers a game. Michigan has shot at least 30% from beyond the arc in all of their games so far and is 33-for-82 overall from distance this tournament (40%). Trey Burke will break down this zone with his penetrating abilities and the Wolverines will continue to do what's gotten them here: knock down outside shots. That is Syracuse's Achilles Heel and the magical March run stops here for the Orange.

Lay the points with Michigan.

  
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