Syracuse will face Michigan in the second half of the National Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. Here is a quick take on the game:
TURNAROUND COMPLETE: A group of hailed freshman wearing long shorts, black socks and a fresh attitude are headed to the Final Four. No, the 2013 Michigan Wolverines may not be as transcendent as their 1991 predecessors, but they have done something no Wolverine team has been able to accomplish since the “Fab Five” led Michigan to that hallowed ground in 1992 and 1993 seasons. Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas—all freshmen starters— were key in Michigan winning the South Regional Final over Florida. Stauskas was at the center of Sunday’s 79-59 win, finishing with a game-high 22 points. His back-to-back 3s late in the first half gave the Wolverines a 24 point lead, and effectively ended the game. But it was McGary who set the tone, scoring eight of the first 11 points of the game as the Wolverines raced out to an 11-0 lead. While Robinson only had six points, he had come into the contest averaging 16 points in the tourney. It marked the complete turnaround of the program, marred by scandal that led to the Fab Five’s two Final Four appearances being vacated.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES: While Michigan’s dynamic freshmen core have made an impact, make no mistake, it is sophomore guard Trey Burke’s team. He leads the team in points (18.9) and assists (6.8), and stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the win over Florida. His backcourt mate, Tim Hardaway Jr., is second on the team with 14.8 ppg. When asked about facing Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 defense, Stauskas looked forward to the challenge, saying that he was a perfect player to bust the zone. Hard to argue with him, as he shoots 42 percent from beyond the arc. As a team, the Wolverines shoot 38 percent from that range, something that Syracuse knows plenty about from head coach John Beilein’s West Virginia teams.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: The last time these two teams met was in the semifinals of the Legends Classic on November 26, 2010 in Atlantic City. Kris Joseph scored 22 points and Rick Jackson added 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Orange defeated the Wolverines 53-50. Syracuse has a 8-5 all-time series lead, though the teams have never met in the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has never lost to a Beilein-coached team before, though, if you don’t know that, then you “don’t know your business.”
GAME INFORMATION: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:45 p.m. in Atlanta, Georgia. TV: CBS.