Syracuse’s vaunted zone defence held Michigan below 40 per cent shooting, but the Wolverines found a way to control the game and hold off a furious Orange rally down the stretch to advance to the championship game.
Behind another solid performance from breakout freshman star Mitch McGary (10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists), Michigan was able to hold off a Syracuse team that just couldn’t find a way to score with Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche fouling out late. Carter-Williams especially was disappointing for the Orange, as the player of the tournament for Syracuse up to this point finished with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, failing to really leave his mark in the national semifinals.
Michigan’s star struggled just as much, with Trey Burke going 1-of-8 from the field, but guys like McGary, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III picked him up with 33 points between the three of them.
C.J. Fair had 22 points and seven rebounds for Syracuse, who looked to have a chance at stealing the game until Jordan Morgan slid in to take a controversial charge, resulting in Triche fouling out with Syracuse down two and just 19 seconds remaining. Fittingly enough, it was Morgan who sealed the Michigan win with a dunk in the dying seconds that made it a two possession game.
On the surface, a No. 4 seed that happens to be a traditional power program making the championship game isn’t all that shocking, but considering that this Michigan squad entered the tournament as the youngest team in the 68-team field, it is quite the magical run they’ve embarked on.
From the suffocating zone defence of Syracuse, the young Wolverines now move on to the swarming, turnover forcing defence of Louisville in Monday night’s championship game.