The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Syracuse Orange 61-56 Saturday night to advance to Monday's national championship game against Louisville. Surprisingly, Michigan was able to take down the powerful Orange without a massive performance from point guard Trey Burke; the Naismith Award frontrunner scored just seven points on 1-8 shooting, adding a mere four assists.
As SB Nation's Michigan blog Maize n' Brew writes, this game -- and this team -- wasn't just about Trey Burke:
[Burke] is so dangerous and so fun to watch because he has shown the ability to take a game over at any time. Burke was pretty much single-handedly responsible for keeping the Kansas game alive in what will most likely by remembered as Michigan's most defining moment in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Burke leads the team in offensive production, in points per game, in games played, and in pretty much everything besides free throws and three-pointers. So it makes sense to think of him as a leader for this team and how, when he's not playing at his best, it feels like something is missing... to a degree.
But Trey Burke is not this entire team. Three players besides Burke are All-Big Ten. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a First-team All-Big Ten player as selected by the coaches. Glenn Robinson III is on the All-Big Ten Freshmen team. Jordan Morgan is on the All-Big Ten defensive team. Nik Stauskas has also had a major impact. His 6-for-6 three-pointers were key in Michigan's victory over Florida. Jordan Morgan's defensive play was instrumental for securing the lead in the final seconds against Syracuse. Last but not least, Mitch McGary has been absolutely huge in this Tournament run and everyone watching knows it.
On the other end of the scoreline, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician is left to ponder a "confusing" game:
If Syracuse just makes 2-3 more, they win. It's that simple. Michigan didn't win this game, they decided to give it away, started giving it away, literally handed it to Syracuse and Syracuse just handed it right back. Michigan didn't out-play Syracuse. Michigan didn't out-shoot Syracuse (correct me if I'm wrong but I think we had a better FG %). Michigan simply survived their own implosion because Syracuse imploded (while helping Michigan implode).
Like I said, all very confusing.
At least seven different times during the game, I said to myself, "they're clearly not winning this game, the video game has decided not to let us." And every time I said it, Syracuse could creep back within 2-5 points, and I'd start to believe that elusive three-point shooting spree was right around the corner. But I should have just trusted my instinct.
Michigan faces Louisville for the National Championship Monday night in Atlanta.
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