Triche’s drive to the basket, which could have brought Syracuse even with Michigan for the first time since midway through the first half, ended when he ran into Wolverines forward Jordan Morgan. The call — there had to be a call – went against the Orange: a charge, Triche’s fifth and final foul. And though the Orange had one more chance down three points, the charge was the pivotal play in Michigan’s grinding 61-56 victory that put the Wolverines in Monday’s championship game against Louisville.
“I probably should have made a better decision,” Triche said. “I probably should have pulled up. . . . I did see him, but I was already in the air jumping, so I was just trying to make a play for the team.”
Debate the call from now to eternity. “Those plays can go either way,” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. But add it, definitely, to the whistle that blew in the waning moment of Louisville’s earlier victory over Wichita State. In that instance, officials called for a held ball that gave the Cardinals possession again, even as the Shockers felt they had possession.
Either way, the Wolverines (31-7) survived — and that’s what this was, survival, because an eight-point lead with just more than three minutes remaining got whittled to one.
They survived despite the fact that point guard Trey Burke, who pulls in a different player of the year award on a near-daily basis, hit just 1 of 8 shots and scored seven points.
They survived despite the fact Tim Hardaway Jr. missed 12 of his 16 attempts, despite the fact that sharpshooter Nik Stauskas didn’t make a field goal.
What the Wolverines got were contributions from just about everyone else. Mitch McGary, the rugged and rapidly improving freshman forward, scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Glenn Robinson III, like Hardaway the son of a former NBA star, hit 5 of 7 field goals for 10 points. And Michigan got something — a point or a rebound— from each of the nine players it used.
“It’s not a one-man team,” Hardaway said. “That’s why it’s a team — a team win.”
So what is left for Monday will be a floor full of talent, one of those finals that will pit plenty of future professional rivals and teammates against each other. Both Louisville and Michigan were ranked No. 1 at some point during the season. Now they will finish it.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Michigan Coach John Beilein said.
The late matchup in the semifinals was so intriguing because the team’s styles differed so greatly.