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I Think It’s In the Cards – From the Bird’s Nest

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Sport

Sometimes I’m right.  Sometimes I’m wrong.

In the sweet sixteen matchups, I properly selected four of the eight games correctly.  Then in the Elite Eight, I got two out of four.

And Saturday, I got one of two.

Now it’s down to two teams, Louisville and Michigan, for the national title.

Give credit to the Cardinals, who got the scoring burst they needed down the stretch as Luke Hancock scored 20 points off the bench and Tim Henderson hit a couple of big three pointers.  Louisville has now come from behind when trailing by nine or more points five times this year.  This team doesn’t get rattled.  Wichita State had a tremendous effort and, for a while it looked like the Cardinals might go the way of Ohio State.  But Louisville forced seven turnovers in a seven minute span.  That’s what Louisville does.

If you had told me the final score in game two was going to be 61-56, I would have guaranteed you Syracuse would win.  In a game of tempo, Syracuse wanted a half court game.  And, they got one.  But the Wolverines beat them at their own game, as they attacked the Syracuse zone by getting the ball into the middle to Mitch McGary, who either finished or kicked it out to an open shooter.  And, you can credit Michigan’s defense or blame the Orange offense, but ‘Cuse just had problems scoring the basketball.  The Wolverines like to run, but they showed they can grind it out.

So what happens tonight?  Well, if this goes according to plan, this has a chance to be a very entertaining game.  Michigan will run.  Louisville will turn them over some.  When Louisville doesn’t turn it over, Michigan has a chance for some easy baskets.  John Belein has done a terrific job with a team that starts three freshmen and, make no mistake, the Wolverines are capable of pulling the upset.

For me, the key for Louisville is transition defense.  The Cardinals get a lot of credit for their press creating turnovers, and not nearly enough credit for their half court defense, which is one of the best in the country.  If they stop the fast break, I think they’ll be in good shape.  That might be easier said than done, but I think it’s going to be good enough to mean a national championship for the Cardinals.

Louisville 82, Michigan 75

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