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Record: 30-7, 12-6 (Big Ten)
Coach: John Beilein
Seed: No. 4 (South Region)
How They Got Here: Def. South Dakota State (13), 71-56; Def. VCU (5), 78-53; Def. Kansas (1), 87-85 OT; Def. Florida (3), 79-59
Best Player: Trey Burke, PG
If this slide was entitled "Meet Every College Basketball Team in America" (not sure why it would be, but bear with me), Burke would still be the prizewinner.
A natural distributor with excellent complementary scoring ability, Burke has been the undisputed focal point of college basketball's best offense. The Ohio native isn't an exceptional athlete and doesn't possess great size, but he's quick off the bounce and has an almost preternatural ability to avoid turnovers.
When you have the ball in your hands as much as Burke does, that last skill is vital.
Michigan Wins If...
It hits better than 40 percent from three.
When it comes to the three-ball, Syracuse's defense is an odd duck.
The Orange, unlike most zone-dominant teams, are exceptionally good at limiting opponents' success rate from beyond. In fact, Jim Boeheim's team ranks third nationally in three-point-shooting-percentage allowed.
Those figures, however, haven't stopped foes from gunning. Syracuse's opponents take 40.2 percent of their field goals from beyond the arc. Only 14 other D-I teams see their opposition shoot more from deep.
Michigan is one of the country's best three-point-shooting teams and the Wolverines chuck it at a reasonably healthy rate.
Considering both sides of the equation, you'd expect the Wolverines to shoot pretty regularly from the outside on Saturday.
If they can hit at 40 percent or better—almost 12 percent better than what Syracuse generally allows—they stand a great chance of winning this ballgame.
Michigan Loses If...
It gets into foul trouble.
The Wolverines aren't a deep team, and it shows in their minute distribution.
Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III all play more than 67 percent of the team's available minutes on average, all made possible by the fact that each commits fouls at an exceptionally low rate.
It's a precarious strategy, if only because a couple of fluke calls can completely rearrange John Beilein's personnel equation.
Odds are Syracuse won't draw Michigan into silly fouls. But if it does, the Wolverines are in trouble.