The youngest team in the tournament field, Michigan made its share of head-scratching plays down the stretch of Saturday’s national semifinal against Syracuse, but when the dust settled, the Wolverines had done just enough for a 61-56 victory that clinched a date with Louisville in their first national title game appearance since 1993.
The Orange had a chance to tie with a three-pointer with 15 seconds left, but instead Trevor Cooney opted to force a contested runner. The shot missed to effectively extinguish the comeback hopes and trigger more head-scratching.
Is that the play y’all decided to run coming out of the time out??
— Michael Oher (@MichaelOher) April 7, 2013
Michigan led the rest of the way after scoring nine straight points midway through the first half, but the Wolverine faithful had to endure plenty of anxious moments. Ask Tim Hardaway.
Michigan gave Syracuse a chance by going 4 of 9 from the free throw line in final 69 seconds. To make matters worse, the Wolverines had to navigate the final two minutes without any timeouts, stirring up more unpleasant memories.
Somewhere Chris Webber is screaming, “That’s your last timeout!”
— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) April 7, 2013
But Michigan found a way, paced by 10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four blocks from freshman forward Mitch McGary. Reserve forward Jordan Morgan became a defensive hero when he slid in front of Syracuse’s Brandon Triche for a charge that wiped away a tying layup chance.
Morgan later added the dunk that sealed the victory and a return to the national final. (The team’s 1993 appearance was actually vacated by the NCAA.)
It was Coach John Beilein’s first win in 10 tries against Jim Boeheim in his career and made Michigan alums like Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard quite happy.
— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) April 7, 2013
A few people even picked the final game matchup correctly before the tournament started. The Cardinals and Wolverines will meet on Monday night in the Georgia Dome with the tip scheduled for 9:23 p.m.
1.4% of the 8.15 million Tournament Challenge brackets correctly predicted Louisville and Michigan to meet for the national championship.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 7, 2013
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