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National Title Preview

trophy

In a matter of hours, the NCAA will crown a new champion in Atlanta, Georgia on the 75th anniversary of the tournament’s beginning. While Kentucky’s reign as National Champion officially comes to an end tonight, a new team will have earned the right to take over where John Calipari and his 2012 squad left off.  While both teams deserve to be playing for this honor, only one between John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines and Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals will be left cutting down the nets hanging above the Georgia Dome floor. Many around the blogosphere have proclaimed tonight’s game to be a prototypical clash of styles, and those people would be correct as Michigan brings the the nation’s best offense while Louisville brings the land’s top defense. Maybe you’re one of those people who believes that defense wins championships, or maybe you’re the modern type who thinks offense is the proper way to go, while there’s disagreement, nearly everyone thinks these teams should produce a spectacular championship game tonight.

 

Over the years, John Beilein has been known for many things throughout the basketball world, but his specialty has become coaching deadly efficient offenses. Dating back to his West Virginia days, Beilein has always led some of the nation’s best scoring attacks, ranking within the national top-25 five times since 2003. However, this year was different for the Wolverines as they have three of the nation’s best all around players in Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Glenn Robinson III. The trio does just about everything for Michigan; they all shoot over 32% from the perimeter, combine for 53.4% shooting in the lane, and turn the ball over less than 2.2 times per game individually.  They drive the lane, spread the floor with their perimeter shooting abilities, keep possession of the ball, and rebound appropriately for their size, making them nearly impossible to defend.

Of course, the Wolverines aren’t just a three man show as they’ve depended upon freshmen, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary, throughout the season. While everybody on Michigan’s squad connects on 31% of their perimeter jumpers, Stauskas is their sharpshooter, connecting on 44% of attempts. His defense leaves something to be desired, but his shooting, low turnover rate, and ability to stay out of foul trouble gives Michigan another reliable option on offense. Near the regular season’s end, Mitch McGary looked like a typical freshman big. He wasn’t scoring at a high rate and he wasn’t rebounding in a way that his size would suggest.  However, since the tournament began, McGary has been averaging 16 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, which would place him among the nation’s elite bigs.  Perhaps his most valuable performance of the tournament came against Syracuse where he dished out six assists from the lane.  His interior passing helped sink the Orange’s 2-3 zone and it could potentially stop Louisville’s match-up zone with proper timing.

 

Louisville enters tonight’s game as a 4-point favorite according to most Vegas bookmakers, and for good reason. Outside of two opponents, the Cardinals have decimated everyone along their path to the national title game.  Most believe that Louisville is accomplishing such dominance with defensive pressure, and those people would be correct, however, they haven’t relied as much on pressure recently. Pitino’s squad ranks 2nd nationally in defensive turnover percentage at 27.3%, but in their three most recent games, they’ve only forced turnovers on 17% of possessions. Despite the cornerstone of their defense in a lesser form, they still won those games by an average of 11.3 points, largely on the shoulders of their offense.

Much like the Wolverines, Louisville is guided by three players on offense; Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, and Luke Hancock. The trio’s play in the past number of weeks has been instrumental in their meteoric rise to offensive efficiency, and the proof is in the numbers. During the tournament, they’ve combined to score 215 total points which comes out to 54.4% of Louisville’s total offensive production.  Whereas recent seasons have seen Louisville struggle to shoot from outside, Smith and Hancock give Louisville multiple legitimate threats to stretch the defense. In case of an off shooting night, Pitino relies upon two of the nation’s best rebounders in Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan who combine for nearly 16 a game. Louisville is an exceptionally balanced team; they posses great scoring ability and quickness from the guard position, efficient rebounding from their big men, and toughness all over the court.

 

It’s really anyone’s guess as to who cuts down the nets tonight. Louisville has proven themselves to be better all season long, so it’s understandable to think they’d win. However, Michigan possess the National Player of the Year on their roster, so it’d be easy to see them winning as well.  While Louisville, by all accounts, is the better team, Michigan has a piece of historic data on their side. In seven of the past ten seasons, the national title winner has been ranked #1 or #2 in Adjusted Offense according to KenPom.com. While this trinket of information is assuring to Michigan fans (and Kentucky fans for that matter), the three champions who haven’t been ranked #1 or #2 in offense have all hailed from the Big East. It’s anyone’s guess as to who wins, but unfortunately, Louisville is the better team and will likely take home their first title since 1986 tonight.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

21 Comments for National Title Preview



  1. really?
    8:03 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    We couldn’t find a picture of the 2012 trophy. Did you have to use dUKe’s. Blech.



  2. ukfastcat
    8:11 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    C’mon, Wolverines, channel your inner Schembechlers, blind ’em with your fluorescent yellow and shoot the lights out.
    Whip the Linebeards!
    GO Meeeeshigan!



  3. James
    8:11 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t worry yourselves none. Louisville will be glad to let you use a picture of their trophy if you want.



  4. Catlogic15
    8:11 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    I live in Louisville. I don’t think there is any way they lose, but if so, Prozac and Xanax do not make enough pills.



  5. Catlogic15
    8:15 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    #3. We didn’t have enough time to vote between the eight so we had to settle.



  6. 3stacks'semenstain
    8:16 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    3. Should ya’ll manage to win, I don’t think a trophy tricked out with line beards and finger pistols would be very photogenic.



  7. Jim
    8:20 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    #3, which one the one from 1986?



  8. mike8
    8:23 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    AGAIN KSR SOUNDING LIKE A LOSERVILLE SIGHT MORE AND MORE



  9. hendoblue
    8:25 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    Go Michigan!



  10. Jim
    8:26 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    #8 I agree, I am tired of Loserville fans coming over here starting crap. They have nothing better to do. You would think they have their own websites however we have to remember since they have been 27 years of IRRELEVANCE that they have no where to go since no one except the city of Loserville cares about UL Basketball or Football for that matter…



  11. Hail Louisville
    8:28 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    When we win don’t go killing Obama or anything



  12. LOL
    8:29 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    GAY. F LOUISVILLE



  13. Jim
    8:30 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    I fully expect Louisville to win it, why would we kill Obama, the people of Louisville are redneck enough that they will probably kill each other….LOL



  14. Syrin
    8:32 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    Michigan by 10. This is the team prototype you would use to be U of L. 4 good ball handlers, can create their own shot, lethal outside shooting, can rebound and defend inside. They’ll force a streaky outside shooting U of L team to chuck it up from outside, and they’ll lose.



  15. uk4thewin
    8:35 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    I can’t decide if univ. of losers getting blown out or choking a big lead at the end would be more satisfying. Either is acceptable.



  16. John Shorts Boss
    9:16 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    Joke? DOUG GOTLEIB ON MY TV RIGHT NOW.



  17. blue!!!!!!
    10:39 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    ??????? people say Rick has upped his game since cal came, but if he would cheat on his wife his true love why would he not cheat on the dirty ncaa???????? OOOH who’s been cheatin loser fans NOT Cal eat it you dirty birds!!! hey if he did it once he’s done it alot lil fornicator!!!



  18. Bigcat4453
    11:23 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    Football on the hardwood. NCAA Officiating is at th epeak of is absolute worsed! I can’t even watch it!



  19. The wildcats nuttsack
    11:42 pm April 8, 2013 Permalink

    PHUCK LOSERVILLE!!!!!!



  20. blue!!!!!!
    12:09 am April 9, 2013 Permalink

    HEY! #19 WATCH your MOUTH! that is why we hate UofL! you to #12 who are ya’ll representing?? DO NOT GET ON THEIR LEVEL YOU HAVE TO BE BETTER THAN THAT!!!!



  21. Louisville
    1:24 am April 9, 2013 Permalink

    LMAO! U WERE SAYING? SUCK IT!