Posted: 2:13 a.m. Monday, April 8, 2013
Not that we don’t admire Michigan’s sizzle, but between this and Kevin Ware, it’s getting really hard to pull against Louisville.
Speaking of Michigan, Jalen Rose is trying to get the Fab Five back together for the championship game, but Chris Webber is still staying away. Rose thinks it has to do with his sixth timeout against UNC in 1993, and our guess is that he’s right. For all of Webber’s tough guy persona, when you get past that, he’s a very sensitive man. That’s not really a mystery or anything. But our guess – and that’s all it is – is that a driving force for Webber is shame. Just as he never got over the timeout (and the timeout chart Michigan fans had during the Wichita State game probably didn’t help in this regard), we expect he’s still ashamed over the trial and his subsequent banishment from the Michigan family, which ends this year.
He can posture all he wants to, but this is still the kid whose mother told him not to hide his light under a bushel. He knows he did; he said so.
If we’re right, the healthiest thing for him would be to go back, let his friends love him, and put it all in the past.
So how will his alma mater do Monday night? Well that’s a tough, tough call.
When you get to this point, the two teams left standing have been through a lot. There are years where one team is clearly favored – UNC in Tyler Hansbrough’s senior year, that team wasn’t going to lose to anyone in the tournament. They were just too good.
We don’t think that’s so much the case now, although conventional wisdom will favor Louisville. But there’s not a lot of daylight between these teams.
A lot of people will compare Louisville to VCU, but that’s a false comparison: the Cardinals are tough in the half-court defense, unlike VCU. But they’ll be challenging a great backcourt. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will certainly hold their own.
And Mitch McGary will give Gorgui Deing fits with his mobility. If he gets in foul trouble, we’re not sure who can guard McGary.
This game is being pitched as Michigan’s offense vs. Louisville’s defense, but that’s an oversimplification.
First of all, Louisville’s offense isn’t bad at all. It’s not the magnificent Swiss watch John Beilein has put together, but when you have Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, not to mention Dieng, Wayne Blackshear, Chane Benahan, Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock, not to mention a dangerous shooter like Tim Henderson, and you have at least a puncher’s chance. And realistically, it’s much more than that.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that Michigan has had trouble stopping teams from scoring inside.
But here’s the key thing to us: not only is Louisville an older team, but they’ve been here before.
Siva is a senior, Russ Smith a junior, as is Dieng. Hancock is a fourth-year junior who has become an extraordinary leader.
In 1993, it was clear to us what was going to happen and we posted our analysis online and a few people can still recall it: we said that the game would go down to the wire and then Michigan would make a key mistake and UNC would win.
It’ll be similar this time, though not as stupid, and you can point to the Syracuse game for an example: in the last 1:09, Michigan missed five points from the line.
Louisville faced great stress against Wichita State as well, but down the stretch, the Cardinals got stronger and the Shockers grew confused and uncertain.
Michigan’s a brilliant team. They won’t buckle in exactly the same way, but there is no bigger stage. Getting there with six freshmen, two sophomores and only one key upperclassman is an amazing thing.
They might pull out ahead and they might even be up near the end, but we expect experience will win out and the Cards will take it.