O'Hara : Burke will lead Wolverines to 2013 title
“Hail to the Victors, the Michigan Wolverines have won the title.” Those are the words Jim Nantz will be saying at the end of the NCAA basketball championship game on Monday as the fourth-seeded Wolverines take the win.
The Wolverines navigated their way to the Final Four by beating three previous Final Four participants, and that experience will be what sets them over the top in their first Final Four since the “Fab Five” made it in 1993.
The Wolverines are led by national Player of the Year finalist, Trey Burke. Burke has been scorching hot, averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 assists per game in the tournament.
In the Wolverines’ Sweet Sixteen contest versus Kansas, Burke led the furious comeback, scoring all of his 23 points in the second half and in overtime. He also sank a three-pointer with just seconds left to send the game into overtime.
But Burke hasn’t done it alone; he is surrounded by sons of former NBA stars, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Robinson III, as well as the tournament’s breakout star, big man Mitch McGary. McGary, a freshman who averaged just 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in the regular season, has exploded for 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in the tournament.
Burke, Robinson III, Hardaway Jr. and McGary, along with Nik Stauskas, make up the best starting five remaining in the tournament.
In the Final Four the Wolverines will face the Syracuse Orange and their stout zone defense. The Orange have held opponents to just 45.8 points per game and 29 percent shooting from the field in the tournament.
But the Wolverines have dealt with tough defenses before, both in the Big Ten conference and in their tournament games against VCU and Florida. They have passed those tests with flying colors.
In the championship game the Wolverines will face either the Louisville Cardinals or Wichita State Shockers. The Shockers, a nine seed, would be the lowest seeded team ever to reach the championship game, which means the Wolverines’ likely opponent will be the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have one of the most complete teams in the tournament with Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng, but the Wolverines are just better. In what will be one of the best championship games in a while, the Wolverines will take their second title in school history.