Wolverines look for title
April 8, 2013
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At the onset of March Madness, Louisville was an undeniable juggernaut. They ended the regular season on a terrific 7-0 SU streak that included a record of 5-2 ATS. Pitino's squad has met expectations as the best team in college basketball throughout tournament play, going 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games. The reigning Big East Champion deserves to be favored in this matchup because they've been dominating all season.
But they may have shown the biggest flaw in their game.
Louisville is a team that relies on the supreme talents of Russ Smith and Gorgui Deng. In their matchup against Wichita State, Smith was uncharacteristically erratic while Deng was thrown in to early foul trouble which held him to all of 6 rebounds 2 blocks. The problem for the highly touted Cardinal is that Michigan is fully capable of recreating the perfect storm that nearly decimated Louisville in the Final Four.
#4 Michigan Wolverines (31-7) vs. #1 Louisville Cardinals (34-5)
Monday, April 8th --- Georgia Dome --- 9:23pm EST
CBB National Title Game Line: Louisville -3.5 (136.5)
Trey Burke won the Player of the Year award earlier this week and has done a magnificent job of carrying the Wolverines. Against Syracuse, however, Burke was a shell of his all-world self and had to rely on his teammates to get the win. Fortunately for Burke, he has talented playmakers on his team that can deliver when it matters.
The Wolverines are now 5-0 SU and ATS in their last 5 games during the NCAA tournament, and while Burke is an obvious reason for their run, this is a team that is easily six players deep. Hardaway Jr. is an emphatic perimeter scorer, and Robinson is a great utility player in the post. Though unheralded going in to the season, Mitch McGary has broken out as one of the biggest difference makers in the tournament. McGary had 10 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in the win over Syracuse.
Louisville needs Russ Smith to be playing at his all-time high to win this game, and the problem is that Trey Burke is one of the few point guards in the country that can keep up with him. If you compound that with the idea that Deng's early foul trouble on Saturday can be easily recreated by a workhorse pest like McGary, you have a combination of problems that Louisville does not want to remember.
It's obvious to me that Burke is on a mission and while Smith and Deng are phenomenal college players, I can't endorse them over Michigan in this game. The Wolverines are playing at a spectacular level and they have two players in Burke and McGrary that are direct foils to the strengths of Louisville. The Cardinal are still a sound play in the sportsbook, but my money is on Michigan accomplishing what the Fab Five couldn't.
CBB National Title Game Pick - Michigan +3.5 (UNDER)