Syracuse vs. Michigan: Burning Predictions for Biggest Game of Tournament
The second clash of the 2013 NCAA Final Four pits two storied programs in search of redemption against one another, as No. 4 Syracuse and No. 4 Michigan will meet in Atlanta on Saturday night.
Both squads have prevailed over highly-touted opponents, and though both the Orange and Wolverines had great regular seasons, neither were popular choices to even cut down the nets at the end of regional play.
But after standout performances from Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke, these two big-money programs will go head-to-head on college basketball's biggest stage with a berth in the national title game on the line.
This is undoubtedly the biggest game of the tournament, and here's a look at how it will all go down at the Georgia Dome.
Trey Burke Will Come Up Big
For starters, Trey Burke (via CBS Sports) won the John Wooden Award, and rightfully so, as the sophomore has led Michigan's resurgence, helping lead the Wolverines to the program's first Final Four berth since Jalen Rose and Chris Webber were donning the blue and gold.
Thus far, Burke has been stellar in clutch moments for the Wolverines (his game-tying shot against Kansas will go down as one of the biggest moments in Michigan basketball history), and after getting his inevitable "slump" game out of the way in the opening round, he's a lock to take over against the Orange.
Burke has all the tools to be one of the top picks in the 2013 NBA draft, and that's just one more reason he'll be at his best in the biggest game of his career.
Yes, Syracuse boasts one of the most overwhelmingly suffocating defenses in the nation, but there aren't many players out there like Trey Burke.
A Big Game Out of Hardaway
In order to beat Syracuse, the Wolverines will need to be at their best offensively, and that means that Michigan will need to be getting contributions from its offensive weapons other than Burke.
Fortunately, aside from Burke, the Wolverines have two potential first-rounders in Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr., so even when Burke's shots aren't falling, they've got insurance.
Even if Burke's firing on all cylinders, Michigan will need to get big nights out of both Robinson and Hardaway to win, which is just fine, because the trio has been deadly all month long.
In particular, when Burke's production goes south, Hardaway has been clutch in picking up the slack, and after failing to hit 20 points in each of the last three games, expect a standout performance out of the junior.
The Wolverines Will Move On
Syracuse's run has been very impressive, but when considering that the Orange reached the Final Four by essentially winning a battle between two dreadful shooting teams, Michigan should be favored.
It won't be easy, because Carter-Williams and the Orange are stingy on their own end, but Michigan's offense will be too much to handle, and they'll move on to face Louisville (or Wichita St.) with the national title on the line.
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