For starters, those were two incredibly entertaining national semifinal games Saturday night and it’s a shame that we’re still fixating on those two blown calls. Both the charge against Syracuse’s Brandon Triche and the jump ball that worked against Wichita St. were judgement calls made by the officials which over the course of the long season have a way of balancing out. True, the timing with both calls was unfortunate and maybe it’s time to eliminate the possession all together to avoid falling prey to a referee’s discretion. Plus, as far as the charge/block call, eliminating the charge circle would only add to the confusion but officials should be much more aware of how easy it is for a defensive player to sneak in late and sell a questionable charge call.
Wichita St surprised pretty much everyone on the planet when they came out and fought the heavily favored Louisville Cardinals all the way to that final controversial jump ball. The Shockers did not allow Louisville to get to the basket while initiating an all out assault on the offensive glass, converting multiple three point plays. Reserve guard Luke Hancock hit a few key threes down the stretch saving the day for head coach Rick Pitino, who had a pretty spectacular weekend when you consider that he was elected into the hall of fame and had a horse qualify for the the Kentucky Derby.
Having the few extra days to prepare for the Syracuse 2-3 zone was a huge benefit to Michigan head coach John Beilein who also had the luxury of a sure handed, smart passing big man in Mitch McGary. McGary was able to occupy the high post, creating plenty of space in the paint for Tim Hardaway Jr. and Caris LeVert to slash to the rim for a few easy buckets. And Trey Burke didn’t even play all that well. The Wooden Award winner is going to need to step up his game tonight as the Cardinals continue their all out assault on the Michigan ball handlers travelling across the timeline.
In the end, I worry about Louisville’s depth tonight because they’re prone to early foul trouble and with the absence of Kevin Ware star guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith will be under even more pressure to play smart basketball and keep themselves on the court. Also, will Gorgui Deng be able to neutralize McGary on the low post or will the Michigan frosh continue his improbable run through the tournament? If McGary can draw a few early fouls on the shot blocker Deng then that will really help to open up the interior for Burke, Hardaway, and co.
For Michigan, how are they going to react to that second half run we’ve come to expect from Louisville during this 15 game winning streak? If they’re able to recover from a string of Russdiculous threes then the national championship is headed to Ann Arbor. Michigan wins with a timeout to spare.