The 2013 NCAA tourney is about to reach its thrilling conclusion, and we can think of no teams more deserving to be left standing than Michigan and Louisville. Both programs were able to heat up at the right time and proved time and time again that they could handle any adversity thrown at them.
Unfortunately, only one can wind up a winner this coming Monday night in Atlanta. It’s going to be a hard-fought game between two proud schools with plenty of history. However, these young men will be looking to write their own and enter the record books as national champions.
Let’s take a look at where you can watch this epic showdown, some players and matchups to keep an eye out for, predict the final score and much more.
When: Monday, April 8, at 9:23 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
Live Stream: March Madness On Demand
Spread Info: Louisville (-3.5), Over/Under: 138, via Vegas Insider
Injury Report (via USA Today): Louisville G Kevin Ware, Out, Leg
Player to Watch: Russ Smith
This Louisville shooting guard will certainly have the biggest impact on the game, as his performance could swing the game for either side.
When the 6’1” star is feeling it, he’s arguably one of the best scorers in the entire nation and capable of nailing shots from anywhere on the court. He’s a dynamic threat that can get to the basket in a variety of ways and even sets up his teammates from time-to-time.
However, the young man seems to have an alter ego—“Russdiculous”—which adequately describes how poorly and mind-blowingly out of control he tends to play at other junctures.
Against Wichita State in the Final Four, we saw both Smith and Russdiculous at various points. The latter opened the game and jeopardized Louisville’s chances, while the former helped the Cardinals cap off an amazing comeback to advance.
He finished with 21 points, three assists and two steals, but recklessly attacked and hoisted contested shots early on. It wasn’t until later that Smith started getting better looks and was wisely getting to the cup.
Depending on which version of this star shows up, Louisville could either waltz to a title or have a great struggle against the Wolverines.
Matchup to Watch For: Trey Burke vs. Peyton Siva
Michigan’s sophomore PG, Trey Burke, is an offensive dynamo. He earned the player of the year award in arguably the best conference (Big Ten) and is starting to gather national recognition via big-name honors.
Listed at 6’0” and a generous 190 pounds, Burke has averaged a whopping 18.5 points, 6.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game during the 2012-13 campaign.
He’s been clutch, too, hitting numerous game-winners and making big plays down the stretch—including a long three-pointer to send U-M’s Sweet 16 contest against Kansas to overtime.
Tasked with guarding this electrifying talent is Peyton Siva, Louisville’s senior point guard. The Seattle product is roughly the same size as Burke, but he’s regarded as a better defender and is considered one of the top perimeter ball-hounds in the country.
Siva collected 2.2 steals per game for his relentless work on D this year, while also contributing a solid 9.8 points, 5.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Whichever PG ends up winning the battle—whether its Burke’s O or Siva’s D—should give their team a huge leg up in coming out ahead in the game.
While Louisville is the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament, we believe Michigan (a No. 4 seed) has proven itself better during the course of its five games.
The young stars on this up-and-coming program have all been excellent. While Burke has clearly been a factor, swingman Glenn Robinson III has shown a ton of maturity and stepped it up against top-notch competition. Tim Hardaway Jr. is lights-out from outside and not afraid to take the big shot, while Nik Stauskas is stretching the defense and Mitch McGary is dominating the inside.
For that reason, we’re giving the Wolverines the edge over Louisville. It’s going to be a close, hard-fought contest, but the better, more talented team will win in the end.
Michigan 81 – Louisville 79